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Foundation News

Little Rock Zoo & A Birthday Bash to Boot

Chris Rico

On Saturday, March 29, the Little Rock Zoo chapter of the Association of American Zoo Keepers (AAZK) hosted a “Birthday Bash” for their three female Asian elephants: Zina (53 yrs.), Sophie (45 yrs.), and Babe (39 yrs.). Asian Elephant Support was invited to participate in the gala and we were given a table at the event to interact with their visitors and introduce them to AES.  AES president, Linda, also gave a presentation for the staff and volunteers on Friday to update them on our work over the past two years.

The Birthday Bash began at 10 a.m. and while the girls were enjoying a bright, but windy, spring day in their yards, the barn was opened to visitors.  Throughout the barn, there were educational tables with kids crafts and games.Zina, Sophie, and Babes paintings, other art work, and some nifty silent auction events were offered for sale. There was also a table displaying some of the tools used in elephant husbandry with a keeper there to explain the “how’s” and answer the “why’s”.  At the AES table there were brochures, signs, and T-shirts and bumper stickers for sale. Linda was able to interact with the visitors, discuss important elephant conservation issues, and explain how AES’s projects support the captive and wild elephant populations in Asia.   A steady stream of visitors enjoyed the opportunities this event presented.  At 2 p.m. the barn was emptied and everyone gathered around the girls’ yards as they received their birthday presents and individual birthday cakes on this special day!

Zina, Sophie, Babe, their keepers, zoo staff and volunteers, and the entire Little Rock Zoo AAZK Chapter are all ambassadors for the elephants' wild cousins, as they most generously donated half of the proceeds from their sales that day to Asian Elephant Support!  What an amazing birthday party when “giving” is every bit as celebrated as “getting”!   AES is an all-volunteer nonprofit organization, which means Little Rock Zoo’s entire generous donation of $664 will be put to work helping improve the health, welfare, and conservation of elephants in Asian range countries.

It was a wonderful day with good people who are dedicated to the animals in their care.  Thank you, Little Rock Zoo staff, volunteers, and especially AAZK Chapter members and elephant barn keepers!  And thank you, too, Zina, Sophie and B