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Come to the Zoo for an elephant-sized birthday



6 November 2006

Come to the Zoo for an elephant-sized birthday party

On Saturday (18 November) Auckland Zoo is putting on one of its biggest ever birthday parties for two very special girls – elephants Burma and Kashin, and all zoo visitors are invited.

Animal Planet Elephants’ Birthday will celebrate Burma and Kashin’s combined birthdays, and to mark the occasion the elephants will be painted up in traditional Thai style. The party, which runs from 11am to 2pm, will start with guests singing Happy Birthday at Animal Planet Elephant Clearing. Burma and Kashin will then lead an elephant parade to the Band Rotunda. Visitors can bring a picnic, play some larger-than-life birthday games and share in a slice of a traditional birthday cake. Along with giveaways, spot prizes, face-painting and entertainment, there will be an elephant-painting auction to raise money for Auckland Zoo’s Conservation Fund.

Burma was born in October 1982 in Myanmar (formerly Burma), and takes her name from her birthplace. She arrived at the zoo in 1990 and quickly settled in with Kashin who has been at the zoo since 1972. Born in December 1968, Kashin is 14 years older than Burma, and their ages aren’t their only differences.

“As part of our elephant programme we spend a lot of time with the girls, interacting and providing activities to ensure each day is a stimulating one. They have very different personalities – Burma is more playful and curious of new things, and hugely adventurous and mischievous. Kashin, on the other hand, acts like the older aunty, is more cautious of new things and could be described as more sensible,” says elephant team leader Andrew Coers, recently returned from an international elephant managers’ conference in the United States.

“Our elephant programme is highly regarded and very progressive. We take a very hands-on approach, including walking the elephants around the zoo each day, and offering behavourial enrichments that really challenge and excite them,” says Andrew.

“Through encounters and interaction with the public, we also try to educate people about the plight of elephants. At the beginning of the 20th century there were about 200,000 elephants in the wild, but now there are less than 50,000, due to destruction of their habitat, and poaching. This birthday party’s about celebrating Burma and Kashin, but it’s also an opportunity to highlight to our visitors the issues facing elephants in the wild, and how we can help.”

Like every good birthday party, there will be a decent sized cake. Kashin and Burma are at ideal weights of about 3300kg and 2900kg respectively, and eat over 50kg of food a day each, so their birthday cake will be big. Bakers Delight is getting out the jumbo baking tins and making a cake with bran, fruit, grains and molasses. Their wholesome cake is in keeping with their healthy lifestyle, which includes daily exercise and lots of fibre-rich food, including their favourite, bananas. This fibre helps them to each produce an average of 70kg of dung a day, used for producing Zoodoo fertiliser on-site.

Normal zoo admission prices apply. Event runs 11am to 2pm, Saturday,18 November. Rain date: Sunday, 19 November. Visit www.aucklandzoo.co.nz or phone (09) 360 3819. Animal Planet Elephants’ Birthday is sponsored by Animal Planet, SKY TV and Newstalk ZB, with support from Nice and Natural, Splatz, Bakers Delight and ASB.

Make a jumbo effort for the planet
Auckland Zoo encourages everyone to “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle”. By thinking globally and acting locally, you can make a jumbo difference to the planet. You can:

* Start a worm farm to recycle your organic matter – the end product is a fantastic, natural fertiliser for the garden

* Compost your grass clippings

* Use cloth shopping bags for your shopping, rather than plastic bags – which are not biodegradable

* Use public transport, walk or bike –to help reduce fossil fuel emissions

* Donate used clothing to charity.


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