San Diego Zoo Safari Park Announce Elephant Valley as New Habitat for 2025


Cale Russell


August 11, 2023 1:56 pm


Escondido, California, The United States

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance have announced the start of construction on their latest exhibit upgrade at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Denny Sanford Elephant Valley. In a release the alliance described the upgrade as, ''The largest and most transformative project in the San Diego Zoo Safari Park’s 50-year history.''

Denny Sanford Elephant Valley will transform the centre of the Safari Park in to a dynamic savanna which will bring guests closer to African elephants helping to encourage greater empathy, understanding, and appreciation of this majestic species.

“We are thrilled to announce Denny Sanford Elephant Valley — a first-of-its-kind immersive experience for visitors, to further connect the vital work happening here in San Diego to the collaborative elephant conservation initiatives we support in the field,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Elephant Valley could not be achieved without the incredible community, donors, members and allies who support us and make all our conservation work possible with partners around the world.”

Guests visiting the Safari Park will stand at the centre of the habitat surrounded by elephants. This extends to above as the elephants will be able to make use of an overpass taking them over guests heads.

A standout feature of the habitat will be the two centre lodge inspired by those travellers frequent in Africa. This will serve as a gathering place where guests can gaze at elephants wallowing in water holes while learning from educators. A team of expert horticulturalists are working to curate flora which will authentically reflect the sights, sounds and smells of an African grassland.

“As magnificent as elephants are, their future is equally fragile,” said Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park. “We are honored to take millions of wildlife allies on a journey into the life of elephants, where they will learn about the positive impact everyone can have, and share in our hope for elephants worldwide. Elephant Valley will be a place where curiosity turns into discovery—where anyone from ages 1 to 100 will experience breathtaking moments of wonder in nature. Our hope is that the defining memories you make here stay with you for a lifetime.”

The African savanna elephant has been listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Climate change, habitat loss and poaching have all contributed to their decline.

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance are working alongside partners including Save the Elephants, The Nature Conservancy, Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya Wildlife Service and Reteti Elephant Sanctuary in Kenya for conservation of elephants.

Along with helping connect guests with the issues facing their wild cousins the elephant herd at Elephant Valley also assist with scientific studies which drive understanding of their species.

“Elephants across Africa are facing immense challenges, which require all of us to collaborate and find sustainable conservation solutions for elephants and people,” explained Nadine Lamberski, DVM, chief conservation and wildlife health officer, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “We are eager to witness the impact Elephant Valley will have on our continued elephant conservation efforts globally.”

Elephant Valley at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

An artist's impression of the Denny Sanford Elephant Valley habitat which is under construction at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The new habitat is antcipated to open during 2025. Image: © Courtesy San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

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African savanna elephant

More on the African Elephant!

African elephants are a group of two species, the forest and savanna elephant. You can learn about the savanna elephant in our fact file.

About the Author

Cale Russell

Cale has operated The Animal Facts since 2012. During this time he has volunteered and worked across a range of Australian Wildlife Parks something he continues to today. He holds a certificate in Animal Care and Husbandry.

Our Favourite African Elephant Fact!

The elephant has the largest brain of any land animal. It is roughly four times the size of a humans. Elephants can recognize themselves in a mirror, a rare trait among animals.

Image: © San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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