Blackpool Zoo is bidding to build a new elephant house in a move which it is hoped will also be a ‘jumbo’ boost to tourism.
The attraction’s current elephant enclosure is 75 years old and was built originally as an aircraft hangar.
Zoo bosses say it is not feasible to upgrade it and want to build a brand new elephant house instead.
If it secures planning permission from Blackpool Council, it will be built on an unused field in the north east corner of the zoo and be a third as big again as the current facility.
It would also incorporate the latest provisions for elephant welfare including sand floors to a depth of one metre, a building height suitable for bulls and cows high level feeding baskets, the most suitable environmental conditions, and a flexible layout with protected access for zoo keepers.
A design brief accompanying the application says the current enclosure does not meet current welfare standards, its concrete floor is not considered suitable, the building does not provide a stimulating and exciting visitor experience and electrical services need replacing.
The project represents a major investment
The proposed replacement would be accessed from the Dinosaur Park, with the building having a large open span with gantries above to operate feeding baskets and supervision of the animals.
External paddocks would boast themed areas and a large pool and water feature, and be overlooked by a timber high level walkway providing access between the Dinosaur Park and the elephant house.
The design brief says: “This application is for permission to build a new purpose designed elephant house at Blackpool Zoo.
“The project represents a major investment to support and strengthen the position of Blackpool Zoo as one of the key visitor attractions in the region.”
It adds: “This application is the first step in the process. It is therefore hoped the proposal will receive the support of Blackpool Council within the statutory period to enable the funding to be secured from the parent company.”
The zoo, on East Park Drive, currently only has one elephant Kate but the creation of a new home for the animals would help bring a new elephant family to Blackpool.
The scheme will now go before council planners at a future date for consideration.