As you wander through the 5 pachyderm habitats in the exhibit, you will feel as if you have hopped on a plane to Thailand.
As you wander through the 5 pachyderm habitats in the exhibit, you will feel as if you have hopped on a plane to Thailand. “We really tried to make the visitors feel as if they were in Thailand through the authentic architecture and other objects from Thailand displayed throughout the exhibit,” explained the zoo’s educational director, Brad Parks. Not only does the Toyota Passage appeal to teens and adults, but also is entertaining for kids 8 and under. Signs scattered throughout the habitats titled, Hey Kids! encourage children to observe the animals more closely and think about how the pachyderms have to adapt to their new home. “Our main goal for the Toyota Elephant Passage is to challenge the creatures to try new things and use their brains. For example, a student in school learns more when they set goals and use higher-level thinking. It’s very healthy for the elephants,” says Brad Parks. “It’s important for the elephants to experience things similar to what they would in the wild.” There are 4 elephants featured in the exhibit: 2 male and 2 female. The youngest of the elephants, and also the first to live in the new habitat, is Bodhi. “Bodhi is 8 years old. He’s the most outgoing of the elephants and likes to perform in front of big crowds. However, he’s going through puberty and needs his alone time,” states Parks. The other male, Groucho, is named after the famous comedian, Groucho Marx and is 41 years old. “Groucho loves hay. He came from the Fort Worth Zoo in Texas. He isn’t grouchy, but is actually quite mellow,” explains Parks. Now to the females: Mimi and Dolly. Dolly has been at the Denver Zoo for most of her 47 years. Although she is younger, Dolly is a leader to Mimi. Finally, the oldest elephant, Mimi, is 52. Since the transition to her new home, Mimi has lost 1,000 pounds. “Birds scare Mimi. But with the new exhibit, she has had to face her fears and is getting a lot better,” Parks told us. Toyota Elephant Passage is the largest of its kind in the world, but hopefully it will inspire other zoos and wildlife sanctuaries around the world to do the same.