As housing renovations go, the Oregon Zoo's $57 million overhaul of its Asian elephant exhibit stands as a remarkable feat of modernization. The new Elephant Lands exhibit replaced the old cavernous, concrete barn and gave the six-elephant herd four times the acreage, a pool big enough for all of them and hilly terrain to roam.
But as impressive as it is, the new exhibit will still be a letdown to voters who thought their approval of a $125 million bond back in 2008 was also going to buy something grander – an offsite elephant sanctuary where the herd would have spent most of its time. The Metro Council decided to drop the effort last month, after a feasibility study showed that running a sanctuary would cost millions a year to operate – an expense that neither the zoo nor its foundation could cover.
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