The Oregon Zoo is throwing an elephant-sized celebration Aug. 12. World Elephant Day at the zoo, presented by Banfield Pet Hospital, will feature keeper talks, training demonstrations, some elephant swim time, and an extra-large super soaker that turns the south habitat of Elephant Lands into a pachyderm splash pad.
“We’re focusing attention on some of the largest and most intelligent land mammals on the planet,” said Steve Lefave, who oversees the zoo’s elephant area. “We want to spread the word and invite everyone to join us in protecting these amazing animals.”
Among the goings-on:
- 9:30 a.m. – keeper talk (north habitat)
- 11 a.m. – training demonstration (Forest Hall)
- 1:30 p.m. – keeper talk (large pool)
- 3:30 p.m. – water activity (south habitat)
Lefave says this month is also a time to focus specifically on the Asian elephant species cared for at the Oregon Zoo. During August, the zoo joins other AZA-accredited facilities and their conservation partners in celebrating Asian Elephant Awareness Month — encouraging people to learn more about this charismatic and at-risk species.
Considered highly endangered in their range countries, Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. It’s estimated that just 40,000 to 50,000 of them remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo, and their home range overlaps with some of the most populous human areas on the planet — 20% of people worldwide live in or next to Asian elephant habitat.
In Borneo, where a lot of the zoo’s conservation work happens, much of the forest has been transformed into oil palm plantations, devastating vital habitat for Asian elephants and other species.
“Simply boycotting palm oil won’t help,” Lefave said. “But as consumers, we can support companies that have made a commitment to deforestation-free palm oil.”
He recommends people check whether a product they’re considering is elephant-friendly by downloading the PalmOil Scan mobile app.
The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its elephant care program, which has spanned more than 60 years. The zoo supports a broad range of efforts to help wild elephants and has established a $1 million endowment fund supporting Asian elephant conservation.
Source: Oregon Zoo