Maine may be one of the last states most people would consider as the right habitat for elephants. Instead the state is well-known for animals that enjoy the region's cold and the blanket of snow it receives for about five months out of the year. However, two retired circus elephants, 41-year-old Opal and 43-year-old Rosie, have recently traveled to their new home in the middle of Maine's vast wilderness.
The Washington Post reports that the elephant rehabilitation center will house the two Asian elephants and make the rest of their retirement comfortable. Rosie is being treated for nerve damage.
According to the elephant's caretakers, Asian elephants naturally lived in places where it snows. However, when Rosie and Opal don't feel like getting their feet wet, they have a 3,120-square-foot barn with 28-foot high ceilings. The barn is outfitted with underground radiant heating system to warm the space and the sand covering the ground floor, which both elephants enjoy throwing and rubbing against each other like a massage.
Radiant heating systems are an ideal option for unique housing situations like these. By placing the system underneath the ground, nothing is available for the elephants to destroy or hurt themselves on. Yet, the facility is adequately temperature controlled for the comfort of the animals and their caregivers.
The warmth steadily travels upwards from the floor and is more energy efficient than traditional heating options like forced hot air, which would require mass ventilation shafts into the facility. Radiant heating will also limit the possibility of dry skin from forming and causing discomfort for the elephants. Forced hot air systems can often leave people itchy and scratchy because of dry skin.
Property owners looking to design and heat a unique facility can consider the benefits of radiant heating.