Photos: Denver Zoo's $50M Toyota Elephant Passage opens today

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Bodhi the elephant.
This is it, zoo fans. This is what you've been waiting for and dreaming of since you approved that $62.5 million zoo-improvement bond in 1999. Big, hulking male elephants -- up to eight of 'em -- living in City Park. Big, hulking male elephants and their big, hulking...trunks.

Today is the day that the Denver Zoo's $50 million Toyota Elephant Passage exhibit opens to the public.

"It's pretty magnificent how this site has been transformed," zoo CEO Craig Piper said this morning to a crowd that included city council members and kids who'd raised money for the elephants. The site is ten acres on the zoo's southern edge, which is much, much bigger than the old elephant habitat. Toyota Elephant Passage -- which was called Asian Tropics before seven local Toyota dealerships donated $5.4 million -- will also be home to several other species, including rhinos and tapirs.

"We want people to fall in love with elephants, rhinos and tapirs every day," Piper said, standing in front of a shiny red ribbon stretched across the exhibit's entrance. "If we touch the heart first, the mind will follow."

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Melanie Asmar
Bodhi the elephant smiles for the crowd.

Click through to continue reading and see more photos.


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