Also the landscaping of trees, natural grasses and varied elevated terrain create a wonderful environment for the elephants and the open design and viewing areas provide an enhanced guest experience as well. We were also lucky to observe the elephants get bathed in the barn where a Houston local news anchor also happened to be there. We first observed the oldest elephant Thai get bathed and he quite enjoyed it. He was also used to the bathing procedure as he knew how to turn as well as which foot to lift to wash. During this process we got to view the elephants bathe. The zoo keepers scrubbed off the elephant with soap as well as water. All of the elephants were confined into separate caged cabins, and the elephants were getting bathed one at a time. The elephant in the first cage was bathed first, I believe his name was Thai and I believe behind him were Tess and Tupelo. Since Thai was getting all the attention, Tess behind him was getting mad and she was banging her head on to Thais cage crying for attention.
The one thing I noticed that the zookeepers were not doing much to calm and play with Tess. She banged her head several times which may have injured her after some times. I felt like the zoo keepers should have paid some attention to Tess especially since the public was watching and that a lot of the visitors including myself were video recording this incident. It is a proven fact that elephants can live in nearly any habitat that has adequate quantities of food and water.
Their ideal habitat consists of plentiful grass. At the Houston Zoo in the elephant exhibit I did not see plentiful grass. The elephants trunk serves as a nose, hand, extra foot, signaling device and tool for gathering food, siphoning water, dusting, and digging. To tend to these characteristics of the elephant the Zoo was successful in providing dust, water and a muddy ground for digging. I think the zoo can improve on the direct interaction between the elephants and the visitors at the zoo. They can give a supervised interaction with the elephants. The visitors can maybe feed them or offer them peanut or maybe the visitors can also bath the magnificent and adorable elephants.
After a lot of research I found that the best manmade elephant habitat can be found at the famous Cincinnati Zoo. Since they adjust their exhibit to cater the needs of each and every species or kind of elephants they recognize the fact that the Asian and the African elephants have lived in two different environments. The African elephants are naturally used to dry grass lands and savannahs, however the Asian and elephants are used to in the jungle, but generally on the edge where open, grassy areas are accessible. They prefer areas that combine grass, low woody plants, and forest. This is something I did not see in the Houston Zoo. I think if the exhibit is true to the natural elephant habitat the environment will be friendlier and the Elephants will not have the need to adapt as much into the zoo.
I believe that an ideal habitat for the elephants should have no virtually no visible barriers between you and the animals, this habitat puts you right in the thick of things. Also the habitat should serve as an exhibit hub, offering opportunities to understand and appreciate the diverse array of Elephants and their complex relationships with human populations. And Last but not least there should be a visual in which the concept of loss of habitat, the main reason why several Elephant species are being extinct, should be portrayed.
This will allow the visitors to reflect back on to their role in the world to preserve the endangered species. In conclusion, I believe that the Janice Suber McNair Asian Elephant Habitat at the Houston zoo does not cater to the natural needs of the elephants. Since the McNair Exhibit is tries to create a universal habitat for all the elephants that reside there. The Zoo does not take the fact that they have elephants that come from different parts of the world, and are used to different habitats as well as climates. The Houston zoo should observe the true habitat of the elephants as well as observe other exhibits and recreate the exhibit.