SAN DIEGO — A dynamic savanna is coming to San Diego Zoo Safari Park in what’s being called “the largest and most transformative project” in its history.

Construction is officially underway for the Denny Sanford Elephant Valley, which the park says is meant to create an opportunity for those in San Diego to connect with elephants on a more intimate level.

You won’t have to fly to an African tundra to experience what it’s like to witness an elephant herd passing through — soon you’ll just need to head to the park’s Elephant Valley to be surrounded by these majestic creatures on multiple sides.

Park officials say guests will be given an opportunity to learn why elephants are considered “ecosystem engineers,” while also exploring the cultures and communities where these large animals coexist with people in their natural habitats.

“We are thrilled to announce Denny Sanford Elephant Valley — a first-of-its-kind immersive experience for visitors to further connect the vital work happening here in San Diego to the collaborative elephant conservation initiatives we support in the field,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Elephant Valley could not be achieved without the incredible community, donors, members and allies who support us and make all our conservation work possible with partners around the world.”

In the middle of Elephant Valley, a two-story lodge inspired by African safari destinations will serve as a gathering place where educators will discuss wildlife in the region. Park officials say guests can take in the sights and sounds of the grasslands, while watching elephants wade in watering holes.

“Elephants across Africa are facing immense challenges, which require all of us to collaborate and find sustainable conservation solutions for elephants and people,” explained Nadine Lamberski, DVM, chief conservation and wildlife health officer for San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “We are eager to witness the impact Elephant Valley will have on our continued elephant conservation efforts globally.”

Elephant Valley is funded by thousands of donors, including longtime San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance supporter Denny Sanford who the park says was the lead donor for Wildlife Explorers Basecamp at the San Diego Zoo.

Elephant Valley is expected to be completed in 2025, according to the park.