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by Elephant Keepers Debbie Flinkman and Andrea Pohlman

March 22, 2013

Over the last few weeks, we have  shared photos of Elephant Trails from our elephants’ points of view. To close, we are giving you a sneak peek of our new Elephant Community Center, which opens to the public March 23!

We have been introducing Shanthi, Ambika, and Kandula to their new Elephant Community Center for nearly a month; watching them play, explore, and investigate all the new spaces have to offer. 

In addition to a new barn, two additional habitats have been renovated to include new shade structures and refurbished swimming pools.  Shanthi, Ambika and Kandula now have four large habitats, three outdoor pools, two spacious barns, and a Trek for enrichment exercise.  

Photos: From an elephant's Perspective

versized doors give a panoramic view of outdoor living areas.Oversized doors give a panoramic view of outdoor living areas. The indoor splash pool includes a foot pedal that allows the elephants to activate a row of overhead showers.

2.	This photo is taken from Ambika’s point of view. Ambika waits for Shanthi to join her in exploring the yellow scratching post.  Shanthi brings along her favorite tire.

This photo is taken from Ambika’s point of view. Ambika waits for Shanthi to join her in exploring the yellow scratching post. Shanthi brings along her favorite tire.

An elephant enters the sand-filled Elephant Community Center to find fresh cut bamboo, a splash pool, and a new toy hanging from the scratching post.  Natural light filters through skylights in the Community Center and adjoining elephant spaces.

An elephant enters the sand-filled Elephant Community Center to find fresh cut bamboo, a splash pool, and a new toy hanging from the scratching post. Natural light filters through skylights in the Community Center and adjoining elephant spaces.

Shanthi watches as Ambika de-barks the new wobble tree, which Kandula has already knocked over.

This photo is taken from Shanthi’s point of view. Shanthi watches as Ambika de-barks the new wobble tree, which Kandula has already knocked over. The tree was installed to encourage natural behavior, and is able to be moved back to a standing position for continued enrichment.

Making their way back up to the Elephant Community Center after getting a drink from the pool, an elephant explores one of two newly renovated habitats. The tall structure not only provides shade, but also allows for future hanging toys, which are highly enriching for our elephants.

Making their way back up to the Elephant Community Center after getting a drink from the pool, an elephant explores one of two newly renovated habitats. The tall structure not only provides shade, but also allows for future hanging toys, which are highly enriching for our elephants.

Ambika and Shanthi are encouraged to explore their new surroundings with fruit and forage-filled paper bags and fresh cut bamboo.

Here, Ambika and Shanthi are encouraged to explore their new surroundings with fruit and forage-filled paper bags and fresh cut bamboo.

We hope you have enjoyed our elephants’ eye view of Elephant Trails! We look forward to seeing the photos you capture of Elephant Trails and the new Elephant Community Center. Please feel free to share with us on the Smithsonian's National Zoo’s Facebook page!

Debbie and Andrea