Hellabrunn Zoo elephants test their new home

On Wednesday, 3 August 2016, the female elephants Temi, Mangala, Panang and Steffi were introduced to their renovated home and have since been testing the new Elephant House at Hellabrunn Zoo for stability and construction defects. Meanwhile, work on the outdoor enclosure has been delayed due to heavy rainfall.

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

Copyright: Tierpark Hellabrunn / Marc Müller

In the past few days, the four female elephants have been spending their nights in the new Elephant House. On Wednesday morning, 3 August, the big day finally arrived: the doors of the completely renovated Elephant House were opened and the four elephants walked inside. Panang and Temi were bold enough to be the first to enter the building that they are so familiar with, but which is now completely redesigned.

While, after some hesitation, Steffi entered the Elephant House as third in the group, Mangala remained outside standing in front of the open door and would only peer inside. "We give the animals the time they need to acclimatise. They can enter and leave the house as they choose," says elephant keeper Andreas Fries. In the meantime, even Mangala now regularly enters the house and has already spent her first few nights there. The animals are monitored by the keepers, even at night. "So far everything has gone smoothly," adds Andreas Fries. "The animals seem very relaxed."

While the renovation work on the interior is drawing to a close, work on the outdoor enclosure has been delayed due to regular heavy rainfall in recent weeks. As a result, the opening of the Elephant House has been postponed until the end of October. Also, the benefit gala planned for 7 October has been cancelled for the time being. "With such a construction project, there are many unforeseeable factors that may arise in spite of careful planning. We decided to take this step in order to be on the safe side," says zoo director Rasem Baban.

At the same time, planning is underway to expand the herd of elephants at the zoo. The next phase will be bringing the bull elephant Gajendra back from Hagenbeck Zoo in Hamburg to Hellabrunn Zoo. This is expected to take place in 2016. Furthermore, with the move into the new Elephant House, the zoo will gradually change its elephant management system to a protected contact system. This means that in future the keepers will no longer work in direct contact (free contact) with the elephants inside their enclosure, but instead there will always be a safety barrier between humans and animals. The modern facilities of the renovated building allow intensive training with the elephants even with the transition to a protected contact system.