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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 March 2007, 09:06 GMT
African elephants' new home ready
Gurkha soldiers and elephants at Howletts Wild Animal Park
Gurkha soldiers spent three weeks building the new enclosure
Sixteen African elephants at a wildlife park will soon move into an extension on their enclosure now that 16 Gurkha soldiers have finished building it.

The steel fence around the animals' five-acre paddock at Howletts, near Canterbury, Kent, was needed because of the ever increasing size of the herd.

A spokeswoman said: "It is vital that our four babies have the space to display their normal behaviour."

The elephants can move in once the ground dries and the gates are ready.

The structure was built in just under three weeks by soldiers from 69 Gurkha Field Squadron, based in Maidstone.

Elephants at Howletts
Howletts Wild Animal Park has four baby African elephants

A Howletts spokeswoman said it had to be tall and strong enough to hold captive six-ton bull elephant, Jums, while also being low enough to stop any of the baby elephants crawling underneath.

Nine calves have been bred at Howletts in about 25 years.

Thirty-six-year-old Masa, one of the original elephants, is now a grandmother.

Howletts said its successful breeding programme meant it could boast the largest African elephant herd in the UK.



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