Zoo goers get a closer look at the Elephant Lands during 'Elepha - KPTV - FOX 12

Zoo goers get a closer look at the Elephant Lands during 'Elephantastic'

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Asian elephant Lily (top) splashes in the pool with her big brother, Sam, at the Oregon Zoo’s new Elephant Lands habitat. Elephantastic, the zoo’s annual celebration of pachyderms, takes place Feb. 13-15. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Z Asian elephant Lily (top) splashes in the pool with her big brother, Sam, at the Oregon Zoo’s new Elephant Lands habitat. Elephantastic, the zoo’s annual celebration of pachyderms, takes place Feb. 13-15. Photo by Michael Durham, courtesy of the Oregon Z
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

Elephantastic, the Oregon Zoo’s annual celebration of pachyderms, will be taking place February 13-15.

This year, the event offers visitors a rare behind-the-scenes look at the most ambitious project in the zoo’s history.

Elephant Lands, which is four times larger than the zoo’s old elephant area, opened December 16, 2015.

The new habitat extends around most of the zoo’s eastern end, from south of the central north lawn into the area which used to house Elk Meadow.

"This is a home for some of the largest and most intelligent land mammals on the planet," said Bob Lee, the zoo's elephant curator. "We wanted to make sure we did it right. This new habitat lets elephants be elephants, making their own decisions about how they spend their days and nights."

According to the Oregon Zoo, Elephantastic, free with zoo admission, gives guests a chance to take it all in on a self-guided tour that includes access roads not normally open to the public.

Activity stations throughout the tour offer more information on the new habitat and the herd, opportunities for visitors to take action on behalf of wild elephants, and hands-on educational activities for kids.

Guests are also invited to write their Poems for Pachyderms, create valentines for elephants and loved ones, and enter a contest to win a behind-the-scenes Encounter Tour with the elephants.

Volunteers will also be demonstrating the new Elephant Lands app which is now available.

"It's Valentine's Day weekend, and Elephant Lands is our community's collective love letter to our elephants," said Krista Swan, the event's organizer. "Portland's bond with elephants is six decades strong, and this event is a chance to celebrate that love affair and learn more about these amazing animals."

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