Sunday, June 12, 2011

Cleveland Zoo: Elephant Crossing Pictures and Review

As an engineer one of my favorite aspects of going to a zoo is just looking at the exhibits and how they are designed and setup, how the park is organized, etc. The new Elephant Crossing exhibit employs an interesting and unique gimmick but appears to have a serious design flaw. The elephant yards are broken up into two semi-circular areas, a Savannah on one side and a more wooded area on the other. There is a path for visitors leading to the the center of the circle where the indoor elephant viewing (and naked mole rat) is located. There are gates on either side of this passage way that swing open and let the elephants pass from one yard to the other.  A neat idea but when the gates are open it prevents visitors from entering or exiting the inner circle of the exhibit. The pathway may be only blocked for fifteen minutes but it does cause a bit of an annoyance. I think it would have served just as well to have used a bridge or a tunnel for the elephants (such as in the Rhino Rally elephant exhibit at Busch Gardens Tampa). Even when the elephants are crossing, you can't see them that well and don't get all that much closer to them either. Overall, an interesting and unique concept that maybe could have been executed better. Here are a few pictures.