Years ago, back when I was still living in Los Angeles, I visited the San Diego Zoo and felt really bad when I saw that the elephants had a relatively small amount of space. Then I felt really bad when I saw one of the elephants reach around the gate and tug on the giant padlock that kept it locked inside. After that, I stopped going to the San Diego Zoo and went instead to its sister facility, the San Diego Wild Animal Park.
Over this winter break, I headed down to Southern California and, having heard about the remodeled elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, decided to give it another try.
This is only part of the exhibit! For a zoo, it's a big exhibit, where seven elephants can roam without feeling crowded.
I have always wondered, though, when zoos put Asian and African elephants together, what do the elephants think? I mean, they're not even the same genus -- Asian elephants are elephas maximus, while African elephants are loxondonta africana. Sure, they're in the same family, elephantidae, but it would make more sense to put, say, lions and tigers in the same exhibit, since those are both in the panthera genus. Put another way, humans are in the family hominidae (and genus/species homo sapien), along with chimpanzees (genus pan). Putting Asian and African elephants together because they look kind of the same (tusks, trunks) is like putting humans with chimps . . . .