El Paso Zoo celebrates elephant’s birthday
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 13:05
Savannah, the Chinese elephant, will turn 60 years old on Sept. 29. To commemorate her birthday, the El Paso Zoo is planning an event with a slew of activities that involve both the public and Savannah.
The event will start off with a breakfast with the elephants, then the audience will watch Savannah get a bubble bath and pedicure. There will also be an Easter egg hunt where kids will be able to go into the exhibit and hide produce for the elephants to find. The event will then close with a birthday cake and a piñata for Savannah.
“We’re going to have a breakfast buffet. The buffet includes eggs, bacon, fruit, juice or coffee,” said Carla Martinez, El Paso Zoo marketing and public relations director. “So the audience gets to sit in front of the elephant exhibit and the girls (Savannah and Juno) are out having their own breakfast.”
According to Martinez, the event will be a unique experience where visitors will get to see how the zoo works internally. She said the zoo keepers will be hanging out with visitors answering questions.
Erika Mendoza, freshman English and American literature major, said she loves going to the zoo because it makes her feel like a kid all over again. Though her favorite animal is the lion, she said she finds the peacefulness of the elephant exhibit soothing and wonderful.
“I think it’s great, I love elephants, I think they are such beautiful creatures and the fact that she’s going to turn 60 just amazes me,” Mendoza said. “It’s wonderful and I’m happy for Savannah.”
The El Paso Zoo has been home for Savannah for nearly 15 years, since she was brought in through the Association of Zoo’s and Aquariums.
Savannah came in 1997 and Juno, her companion, came in 2002. They’ve been together ever since.
“She (Savannah) has a sweet disposition, always the same temperament. We can tell how they’re feeling and what kind of mood they’re in,” said Travis Smith, elephant keeper. “The Asian elephants have bonded with humans for quite a while.”
According to zookeeper Leela Lax, the two elephants are very social. She said that females live their whole life together in the wild, so having Savannah and Juno together allows them to have their normal animal behavior and society.
“These girls are from a jungle setting in Asia, they are kind of shorter and stockier to push through the bush,” Lax said. “They both come from different environments and each (one) has picked up different traits to deal with them well.”
The event will be both entertaining and educational, Martinez said. She mentioned that zookeepers will be sharing all their knowledge of the zoo and the elephants with the public in order to educate them on conservational behaviors that help animals like Savannah and Juno.
“I hear kids everyday, ‘elephants, elephants!’ They love it, they get very excited when they see them. It’s probably one of the top favorite animals,” Lax said. “Many zoos don’t have elephants. We are one of the few zoos to have had an elephant for such a long time”
The event will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the El Paso Zoo Sept. 29. For more information, visit elpasozoo.org/Event-Calendar.php.
Mario Simental may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.