Welcome to part 3 of our series featuring construction photos from African Elephant Crossing, the Zoo's new elephant habitat. In Part 1 we looked behind the building and in Part 2 we looked inside the building. Now we'll look up above and out around the yards and learn about general design elements for this type of Zoo exhibit.Now that we've seen the changes on the inside of Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's old Pachyderm Building, let's look up at the ceiling then venture out into the yards of African Elephant Crossing.
As you know, elephants are extremely tall. But did you know that they are very resourceful, intelligent and curious? Our elephant keepers tell us they use their trunks to explore even the most remote reaches. Sprinkler heads directly above the indoor elephant space will be more than 20 feet above the floor and fitted into a new armor-plated ceiling under the roof of the old building (see photo below). And, the building's existing skylights will enable daylight harvesting - another LEED initiative.
Adjacent to and level with the lowest edge of the old roof will be a mezzanine level. The mezzanine level is directly above the ground-floor keeper walkway, and it will contain all the air-handling machinery for the building. The photo below shows how the mezzanine floor panels were placed by a crane during the construction:
To the right of the building is one of the new elephant yards called the "Mopani Range" (see photo below). This space encompasses parts of previous exhibit yards along the main walkway to GumLeaf Hideout in Australian Adventure. To get a better understanding of the layout of African Elephant Crossing, please see our illustrations: top view and perspective view.
The next photo is a close-up of the 10-foot posts that will support the exhibit fencing -- this height is necessary because elephants can stand over 11 feet. If you've been to the Zoo lately, you'll see these 10-foot posts surrounding most of African Elephant Crossing. The public barrier will be another 15 feet out from the posts. Here's why: a minimum distance of 13 feet is necessary because elephants can reach up to 10 feet with their trunks and humans can reach up to three feet with their arms. Then, the exhibit designers add another two feet as a safety factor.
The other large yard, the "Savanna Range," is on the other side of the building from the Mopani Range (again, see diagrams linked above). The Savanna Range will include a special "nose-to-trunk" viewing area for Zoo visitors, but that area has not been developed yet (see photo below).
In Part 4, we'll take a look at some of the more "finished-looking" areas that have already popped up around African Elephant Crossing.