Elephant Trek on Track to Open in 2024

Posted September 22, 2023

Mural and barn completion make the vision come to life!

CINCINNATI, OH (September 22, 2023) – The largest habitat in Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s history is starting to come to life with the completion of the elephant barn structure and the giant mural that spans the entire side that faces Forest Avenue.  The Zoo’s neighbors, many of whom participated in the planning and painting process, will enjoy its colorful beauty for decades to come.

Mural video w/interview | photos | ET video updates

“It was very important to the Zoo, and to me, to involve the Avondale community in the design process,” said Cedric M. Cox, mural artist. “I took sketches to Rockdale academy and to the neighbors across the street and asked students and youth groups to add colors and imagery that would help me envision a masterpiece for the elephant barn.  They understood the parameters and came back with some vivid, energetic ideas that inspired the final artwork.”

The Zoo also invited neighbors and employees, including the elephant keepers, to paint parts of the mural.

“We’re thrilled with the mural and hope to work with Cedric on other projects in the future,” said Mark Fisher, vice president of facilities and sustainability.  “The barn is looking great and is almost elephant ready, but we have a lot more work to do to bring the full Elephant Trek vision to life.”

The Zoo has been providing regular construction updates to build excitement for the eventual opening of the 5-acre habitat in the summer of 2024. The most recent video shows where two big pools will go in the giant yard.  Those pools will be filled with water that’s collected in tanks that were buried under the habitat and have the capacity to hold a million gallons! That project was partially funded by the Zoo’s official water sustainability sponsor Roto Rooter.

“We will collect rainwater, clean it, and use it for streams, waterfalls, pools, and other water elements in Elephant Trek and other parts of the Zoo.” said Fisher.  “We are taking care of water needs on the other side of the Zoo with stormwater tanks that are buried under Africa and Roo Valley.”

In addition to multiple water features throughout Elephant Trek, the five-acre habitat that will be home to Asian elephants, clawed otters, siamangs, and more!

According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), there are only 40,000 Asian elephants in the wild today. They are an endangered species, and Cincinnati Zoo is committed to caring for them locally and globally.  It participates in multiple conservation efforts to support the survival of this species in its native habitat.