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New Elephant Habitat to Open at National Zoo Saturday

If there wasn’t enough elephantine excitement in the capital with the pachyderm parade through Capitol Hill this week, the National Zoo has another surprise for lovers of large mammals.

The public opening of the zoo’s Elephant Community Center on Saturday is the final part of Elephant Trails, a $56 million expanded home for the zoo’s herd of Asian elephants, according to a statement.

Elephant Trails also facilitates animal enrichment, according to the release, the effort to stimulate zoo-kept animals with textures, foods and other things reminiscent of their natural habitats.

Asian elephants Ambika, Shanthi and Shanthi’s 11-year-old son, Kandula, are members of an endangered species that the zoo has been working to conserve and protect, and they are sure to be pleased.

Starting Saturday at noon, visitors are invited to experience the sights, sounds and smells of being close to the three gigantic quadripeds, though it’s hard to imagine wanting to get close enough to know where those smells are coming from.

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