HONOLULU(HawaiiNewsNow)- For almost a decade The Honolulu Zoo has dreamed of a new elephant exhibit. Tuesday morning that dream came true for Mari and Vaigai, the two elephants that reside in the zoo.
"I can't ever remember dedicating a home where two residents are weigh 5 toms a piece…it absolutely beautiful and if you can compare this to what they had before it so much more expansive," said Mayor Peter Carlisle.
The new asian tropical elephant exhibit is 68-thousand square feet, has two spearate exhibits and separate sleeping quarters for both Mari and Vaigai.
The total cost of the exhibit is 12 million dollars.
The exhibit was designed to specifically answer the criticism in the past by a group called "In Defense of Animals," or I-D-A, which had ranked the previous home for Mari and Vaigai as one of the ten worst in America.
"When they went to the old exhibit the elephants were much close because the exhibit was much closer to where the public was, this exhibit is much deeper and you may not see the elephants as closely but you can see them run and froclic," said Honolulu Zoo Director Manuel Mollinedo, "If someone is going to criticize the elephant habitat I have to say that it is not like living in the wild, but I have to remind people that the wild space are very dangerous and those wild space are shrinking."
City and Zoo Officials plan for more improvements to the elephant exhibit in the upcoming months. They want the zoo to serve as a living classroom for local students and to encourage more tourist dollars spent in Hawaii.
"We are 2,300 miles from any other zoo and if we can make this to be golden nugget of the pacific even more so than it is that is going to attract more people... it is already the 4th largest visitor attraction with 600-thousand visitors every year."