The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh took a break from their traditional royal duties to visit Whipsnade Zoo in Bedfordshire on Tuesday.
The royal pair were there to help open the zoo’s new Centre for Elephant Care, the new home to the zoo’s new nine Asian elephants. One of these elephants is ten-month old Elizabeth, named after the Queen herself.
Her Majesty and Prince Philip even got the chance to feed a banana to another elephant, seven-year-old Donna. Dressed in all lavender, the Queen watched as Donna eagerly snatched up her banana, causing Philip to laugh. Donna then did the same to the Duke, grabbing the banana he offered with her trunk and then giving him a quick sniff.
The Queen and Prince Philip toured the zoo and also got the chance to see how the Centre’s team carry out daily function, like filing the elephants’ huge nails and taking care of their mouth and teeth.
The Centre for Elephant care is a 30-acre plot of rolling paddocks as well as a 700m2 indoor space with a deep sand floor and dimming lights to mimic night for the elephants’ comfort. Asian elephants are a classified endangered species, and the Zoological Society of London has been working in Thailand to protect elephants and their natural habitats. Her Majesty is the patron for the ZSL and the Duke is the former president of the society.
Visitors will be able to observe the elephants in the Centre and also participate in a number of interactive exhibits, like filing a model of a giant elephant nail. The Centre opens to the public today!