Oregon Zoo elephants exploring part of new habitat

PORTLAND, Ore. - Elephants at the Oregon Zoo got a chance to check out part of their new exhibit for the first time last week.

Construction crews completed work on the Encounter Habitat, which is part of the zoo's $57 million Elephant Lands project. The Encounter Habitat is a sandy field near the zoo concert lawn, zoo spokesman Hova Najarian said.

Samudra and his family spent time in their new habitat on Feb. 22.

"Samudra strolled out right away," zoo elephant curator Bob Lee said in a news release. "He only slowed down long enough to eat every piece of fruit and vegetable in his path. Chendra sprinted out close behind, inspiring Sam to quicken his pace and venture even further into the habitat. Rose-Tu was ready to go along, but Lily kept turning back to check on her Auntie Shine, who was a little shy about coming out to play. Once the rest of the elephant family was in the new habitat though, Shine ambled out to join them."

Lee says the elephants will get used to the new area at their own pace in the coming weeks.

The entire habitat is scheduled to be finished in 2015.

Learn more about Elephant Lands