Summer weather is making waves in Portland this week, and so is zoo elephant family
Summer temps have arrived at the Oregon Zoo, and a few residents in particular are diving in headfirst — trunks and all. Before the zoo opened this morning, four members of the Asian elephant family took an early swim in the pool at Elephant Lands.
Samson and Rose were especially eager to jump in. With the sun rising over the zoo, the pair of pachyderms swam and played together in the water, using their trunks as snorkels. While their herdmates Shine and Chendra splashed on the beach, Rose and Samson headed back to the 160,000-gallon pool for another dip.
Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo's elephant program, came upon the herd playing in the water as he arrived for work.
"These elephants love to swim at all hours of the day, especially first thing in the morning," Lee said. "And now that summer weather is here, I think Samson, Rose and the rest of the family will be spending a lot of time poolside."
The elephant family took their early-bird swim in the larger of two pools at Elephant Lands, which is 80 feet wide and 12 feet deep — perfect for diving. Both pools incorporate state-of-the-art filtration and treatment systems that completely filter the water every hour to maintain quality and allow re-use. The pool also includes a play jet that sprays bursts of water, controlled remotely from a keeper area.
The zoo's award-winning Elephant Lands habitat, which opened in 2015, was designed to maximize activity and choice, with a variety of feeding methods that mimic the grazing habits of wild elephants — and plenty of opportunities to go for a swim.
The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its Asian elephant program, which has spanned more than 60 years. Considered highly endangered in their range countries, Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. It is estimated that just 40,000 to 50,000 elephants remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo. The zoo supports a broad range of efforts to help wild elephants and has established a $1 million endowment fund supporting Asian elephant conservation.
The Oregon Zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission of inspiring the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Columbia Basin pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot and Taylor’s checkerspot butterflies, Western pond turtles and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.
The zoo relies in part on community support through donations to the Oregon Zoo Foundation to undertake these and many other animal welfare, education and sustainability programs. The zoo is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26 at exit 72. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Visitors who travel to the zoo via MAX receive $1.50 off zoo admission. Find fare and route information online or by calling TriMet Customer Service at 503-238-RIDE (7433).
General zoo admission is $10.50 (ages 12-64), $9 for seniors (65 and up), $7.50 for children (ages 3-11) and free for those 2 and younger; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $4 per car is also required. Additional information is available by calling 503-226-1561.