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Wow! This must have been cool to see. African Elephants are always a joy to see swimming. I still have yet to see an Asian elephant swim.
I think this exhibit is the best in the nation, much better than SDWAP which is mainly walls and open dusty areas. I also think Nashville's is better than North Carolina's exhibit since in Nashville they were actually making it look authentically African with the plants used.
No lure, but a summer rainstorm had developed and for some reason that spurred them to go into the pool. I think it was raining (or had just stopped) when I took this photo. A keeper did walk down to the pool to watch them and one of the elephants would go to the edge and touch him with its trunk. BTW the keeper was inside the exhibit, not outside; Nahsville had the most relaxed free contact I have seen anywhere. Another keeper earlier was walking inside the exhibit pulling weeds and one of the elephants followed him around like a pet dog. He was totally unconcerned and was not even watching the elephant.
I have not been to North Carolina Zoo (which looks quite good), but Nahsville is definitely one of my top two elephant exhibits - probably a dead tie with Dallas. Sitelines are better at Nashville (which is important to me as a photographer) but extra rock kopjes and streams and other savanna animals are better at Dallas. Of course in less than a month I will have a third favorite when Expedition Tanzania opens at my zoo. It has a very nice pool also (maybe the best anywhere) and it will be interesting to see how the elephants take to it.