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Denver Zoo's new elephant exhibit, Asian Tropics, is halfway finished (PHOTOS)

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Asian Tropics, the Denver Zoo's biggest-ever project, is halfway finished. When it's fully completed in the spring of 2012, it will be home to several species, including up to eight male Asian elephants -- a necessity for captive breeding, but an intimidating feat that brings certain challenges. Among them: green weenie.

In 2009, Westword wrote a cover story about the zoo's groundbreaking exhibit: "Caution: A Herd of Bull Elephants is Coming to the Denver Zoo." (Read it for more details on "green weenie," a condition that plagues bull elephants during a hormonal period called musth, when their penises protrude and, due to constant urination, grow algae.)

The zoo broke ground on Asian Tropics in December 2009, and a little more than six months later, we checked in on the ten-acre, $50 million exhibit to see how construction was coming along.

Then, the swath along the zoo's southern border that will become Asian Tropics was little more than dirt mounds, trenches and posts sticking out of the ground. But today, we got another tour, and it's now possible to envision the spaces that will be home to rhinos, tapirs, leopards, flying foxes (a species of bat), fishing cats, otters and gibbons. Page down to check out photos and descriptions. In the words of George Pond, zoo vice president for planning and capital projects, "It's a great day to build an elephant exhibit!"


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