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The Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage opens.

May 2012

When you’re 11,000 pounds and almost 10 feet tall, a spacious abode is a must. That’s why the Denver Zoo’s Toyota Elephant Passage (opening June 1) is such a coup: The 2.3-acre pachyderm playground is close to six times the size of the previous habitat, with more than two miles of trails open to Groucho (pictured)—the zoo’s largest resident—and his friends Mimi, Dolly, and Bodhi. On hot days, the elephants can even treat themselves to a shower by pressing a button with their trunks. Visitors can watch the herd pass overhead as it crosses a large (and sturdy!) bridge and also glimpse exotic neighbors like rhinos, clouded leopards, and gibbons. And despite its massive tenants, the $50 million project leaves a small environmental footprint by relying on recycled water and using biomass gastrification (converting trash and animal waste into energy) to power the exhibit. Now those are some impressive stomping grounds.