A Mile High version of Dumbo, the flying pachyderm, took flight today when Mimi and Dolly went airborne — in a crate lifted by a crane — into their new home at the Denver Zoo. The city's resident elephants moved to the new Toyota Elephant Passage, a 10-acre exhibit that will officially open in late spring. Their new home features twice their old sleeping space, six connected habitats, more than 100 gated passageways and 2 miles of trails for animals to explore. The move was months in the making, as Mimi and Dolly were trained with positive reinforcement so they would peacefully enter the crates for the move. Brian Aucone, the Denver Zoo's vice president for animal collections, said all went smoothly.
"I know they will be so happy in their new home," he stated. "Our staff is elated to see this happen. It's the best thing for them."Though construction won't be complete before the end of the year, staff wanted the elephants to become acclimated to the new exhibit before it opens late next spring. The elephants won't be on display during the remainder of Zoo Lights this season. The Toyota Elephant Passage will support the Asian Elephant Species Survival Plan, enabling artificial insemination techniques through semen collection, the zoo stated. The Denver Zoo has about 3,800 animals representing more than 650 species.