A Bigger, Better Elephant Exhibit

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No word on whether the zoo will also be housing cartoon elephants
The Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has given the city a big ol' Christmas present — but we're gonna have to wait till 2010 to open it. The zoo's new African Elephant Crossing exhibit — said to be a "model for zoos nationwide" — will begin construction in 2007. But the $25 million project won't be complete until some time in 2010. That's a long wait, but the world's largest land animal has never been the speediest of creatures. (A tiny version of African Elephant Crossing is now on display at the zoo's Exhibit Hall.) While zoo visitors gasp in awe every time one of the mighty beasts moves an inch, the elephants themselves have reason to smile: African Elephant Crossing doubles as a conservation center. The exhibit — designed to look like the elephants' natural habitat but with gazing Clevelanders replacing grazing lions -- will greet guests as soon as they enter the zoo. More than five acres of wooded grassland will house 10 elephants. For those keeping score at home, that's four times the space the zoo currently doles out to the animals. Plus, special viewing areas will put giant elephant asses even closer to visitors' faces. We can't wait. --Michael Gallucci

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