Louisville Zoo expands Elephant Encounter, adds camel rides and - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville Zoo expands Elephant Encounter, adds camel rides and zebra safari

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- The Louisville Zoo is about to get an upgrade.

The Harry Frazier Family gave a $2 million gift to the Louisville Zoo to improve three areas in the African area.

The Frazier family gave the money to Louisville Zoo back in 2014 to expand what is now named "The Harry Frazier Elephant Encounter", add camel rides, and put in a new safari vehicle in the zebra exhibit.

"One of the things that we discussed is how important it is for our children to be able to see these animals, and how important elephants are," said the Louisville Zoo Director John Walczak. "Elephants are the apex of the African Savannah. They are critical to what is left of the wild in that part of the world. We want to celebrate elephants, we want to help their conservation, we also have to realize that they are endangered." 

Across from the Elephant Encounter is a new area designed for camel rides. Children and families can hop on the back of a camel and take a ride around the exhibit.

You can also see zebras up close in a new safari vehicle placed just inside the animal's exhibit.

"We want every experience to be like you're behind the scenes and getting to see the animal nose-to-nose," said Walczak.

Next to the zebra exhibit is an area for children to play African percussion drums.

"It's important that we have a place like this in our community so kids that are never going to get the chance to go to Africa or to the Arctic, they can come to the zoo. They can meet these incredible animal ambassadors and start to understand the role of themselves and helping this planet be a healthy place," said Walczak.

The expansion to the African area is just one phase in the Zoo's Leadership Campaign, which includes adding several new exhibits in the coming years, as well as expanding and renovating current exhibits.

Zoo officials say so far they've raised nearly $9 million, but still need another million-and-a-half to complete the campaign.

"We have a goal and we have great momentum in this city to be one of the country's great cities here, and to do that you've got to have a great zoo," said Metro Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. "It's as simple as that. It's an important part of any city."

The camel rides and zebra safari open to the public on Saturday.

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