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Stepping Out on the Savanna

Stepping Out on the Savanna

February 13, 2019

For the past five years, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore has been working on an ambitious plan to transform the elephant, giraffe and lion habitats in African Journey. Zoo staff have collaborated closely with exhibit designers on every detail, to create stimulating environments for the animals and wonderful new viewing and learning opportunities for student groups. The new habitats will open in stages, with the entire project completed by mid-2019. Make your plans now to come and visit! In the meantime, here’s a preview of what’s to come for the elephants, giraffes and lions—and students!

The elephants are getting more and better space, inside and out. Their barn is going to nearly double in size, to 14,300 square feet.

Outside, the elephant habitat is nearly tripling in size, to 77,300 square feet, with two new yards added! Student groups will be able to watch the elephants bathe in multiple pools, cool off in the spray of a water cannon, dust in a sand pit, wallow in a mud mire, and browse from a flexible hay hoist, among other activities. Students will also be able to see them from multiple locations along a new and improved boardwalk, which will include a demonstration/keeper chat area and an expansive deck.

Not far away, the giraffes will be testing new and improved ground beneath their feet. The changes to their yards won’t be as visibly dramatic to guests, but the giraffes will notice. Their outdoor habitat will grow by one-third, to 36,200 square feet, and will be regraded so the ground is flat, rather than sloped. This will allow the giraffes to walk safely throughout the entire space, even in wet weather.

For the first time ever, the giraffes will have the option to cross over from their existing habitat into the Upper Savanna area of the elephant habitat, by way of a new “Giraffe Crossing” land bridge. Once the animals have adapted to their new and improved surroundings, the process of introducing the giraffes to the crossing and eventually to the elephants will begin. There is no telling how long it will take; the giraffes and the elephants will decide, and animal care staff will take cues from them.

Changes to the lion habitat will enable student groups to see animals at eye level all around them, with lions to their left and giraffes to their right! They’ll be able to observe the lions through a combination of floor-to-ceiling viewing glass and stainless-steel mesh. Keepers will engage the lions in training sessions at the mesh, and student groups are free to watch. The lions’ outdoor space will get a makeover, too, with the addition of upper and lower embankments, a mud-bank wall, a small pool and a shaded area near the glass, where the lions may choose to lounge.

Come see for yourself! Learn more at Maryland Zoo.

Written by Sarah Evans, Courtesy of the Maryland Zoo.

Photo courtesy of Maryland Zoo.