The Saint Louis Zoo’s bull Asian elephant, Raja (pronounced RAH zhä), will celebrate his “golden birthday” when he turns 27 on Dec. 27 this year. A golden birthday (also known as “grand birthday” or “lucky birthday”) occurs once in a lifetime when one turns the age of their birth day.
Raja will receive special presents to stomp open at his annual birthday party at 11 a.m. on Friday, Dec. 27, at River’s Edge in the Zoo, weather permitting. Visitors are invited to sing “Happy Birthday” and cheer for Raja. After the celebration, visitors can sign a super-sized birthday card and learn more about the elephants and elephant conservation through keeper chats, activities and biofacts until 1 p.m. at Lakeside Cafe. Birthday cupcakes and hot chocolate will be available for purchase.
Born on Dec. 27, 1992, Raja was the first Asian elephant born at the Zoo. He is the father of three female calves at the Zoo — Maliha, 13, Jade, 12, and Priya, 6 — and another calf due in summer 2020 to mother Rani.
“We all look forward to celebrating Raja’s golden birthday with the entire St. Louis community this year,” said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Acting Curator of River’s Edge, Saint Louis Zoo. “It’s a privilege to care for these amazing animals and to see how Raja inspires our guests to care about elephants in the wild.”
For the party, zookeepers and volunteers have constructed birthday presents filled with some of the elephants’ favorite things, including cereal, peanuts, bananas and popcorn. Large trees will be provided for the elephants to push over and encourage natural browsing. Other elephants from the family also may be celebrating with treats of their own in River’s Edge.
From 10:30 to 11 a.m. (weather permitting), visitors can meet a keeper and watch animal training demonstrations at the elephant habitats. The Zoo’s three-generation Asian elephant family is thriving under the excellent care provided by a highly-trained professional animal care team.
Asian Elephant Conservation
There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction due habitat loss and destruction. Given the shrinking population of Asian elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo is committed to conserving this endangered species. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation supports the welfare and conservation of Asian elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia, India and Myanmar. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa also supports conservation of African elephants in Kenya through the Northern Rangelands Trust.
For more information, visit stlzoo.org/raja. Admission to the Zoo and Raja’s birthday is free. The Zoo is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, except on days of U.S. Bank Wild Lights when it closes to the public at 4 p.m. For a complete list of hours and information on Wild Lights, visit stlzoo.org/wildlights.