Tembo Trail Opens at Toledo Zoo

A covered overlook at the Tembo Trails offers visitors a prime opportunity to watch the Zoo’s four elephants. Copyright Andi Norman, Toledo Zoo.

On Friday May 18th, the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio, will open Tembo Trail.  The new exhibit will house four African elephants in over 45,000 square feet of space.   The new exhibit  also features lions, meerkats, hippos, white rhinos, and a colony of naked mole rats!

Tembo Trail is notable for its innovative use of vertical space for the elephants which includes 25 plus overhead feeders and enrichment objects that encourage the elephants to move, stretch and explore while staying mentally and physically fit.

The outdoor exhibit area has slopes and ridges that offer the elephants plenty of opportunity to exercise.  All through the outdoor yards, deep sand provides a soft but firm foundation that encourages the elephants to move while providing a firm foundation for their feet and joints.   The indoor enclosure makes extensive use of natural lighting and includes three elephant bedrooms and a heated porch.   

The construction of Tembo Trail also provided an economic boon to the community. The construction of the exhibit generated business for over 100 companies and resulted in 70,000 plus worker hours (not including Zoo staff!).  The Toledo Zoo has an overall economic impact in its community of $38 million (2010).  

Meet the Elephants 


Renee enjoying Louie’s 7th birthday cake. Copyright Lynn Lyons.

Renee was born in 1979 and orphaned after her mother was culled in Zimbabwe. She has short tusks and a small notch at the bottom of her left ear.   Renee is a good problem solver, particularly when food is involved!





Louie. Copyright, Andi Norman, Toledo Zoo.

Louie was born in 2003 at the Toledo Zoo and is Lucas’s older brother.  When he is fully grown, he could reach 13,000 pounds and stand at over 10′ 8″.  He has the largest tusks of the Toledo Zoo’s herd.  








Twiggy. Copyright Alex DeBeukelaer.

Born in 1985, Twiggy was given to the Zoo by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after her former owner could no longer provide the care she needed.  She has very short, hard to see tusks.  Although she is very shy, she has developed a strong relationship with Louie. 







Lucas. Copyright Lynn Lyons.

Born in 2011, Lucas can often been seen mimicking his mother Renee.  Visitors can see him playing with balls, pushing barrels and playing in the wood shavings when they visit the exhibit. 

The Zoo’s Conservation Today program allows Zoo visitors and donors to support elephant conservation through the International Elephant Foundation (IEF) and The National Elephant Center.  The Zoo’s IEF contributions support the Waterways Project anti-poaching efforts in Uganda.   The Toledo Zoo also participates in AZA’s Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for African Elephants.

Tim Lewthwaite 

This entry was posted in Education, Elephants, Exhibits, Toledo Zoo, Zoo and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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