To say that the Elephant Department at Wildlife Safari stays busy is an understatement. After over a year of fundraising through auctions, elephant art, and special encounters, they celebrated the opening of the all-new Tembo Trek habitat expansion in July! This amazing celebration also coincided with the 37th birthday of their herd’s special guy, George.

An impressive male African elephant, George is the symbolic figurehead of the Wildlife Safari elephant herd’s elephant ambassadors. For the jumbo celebration, they had photo opportunities and selfie stations, events like bean bag toss and elephant crafts, trunk-painted elephant art by the birthday boy himself, and a melon feeding with George and the rest of his herd. Guests could also use an “apple launcher” to roll an apple into the new, expanded habitat for the elephants to snack on, and later in the day they even had an opportunity to pet the birthday boy. Everyone got into the party spirit including other ambassador animals from the park’s education department attending as “George’s Birthday Friends.”

Wildlife Safari’s commitment to teaching the animal-loving public about animals, especially elephants, was integral to this event. The team set up a conservation station to discuss what you can do every day to help elephants–only buying products with sustainable palm oil, boycotting ivory and exotic wildlife products, and supporting global conservation efforts through organizations like the International Elephant Foundation. They even passed out IEF giveaways like bracelets and temporary tattoos.

By the end of the day, park guests had a concrete and emotional connection between an elephant they met and love and their wild cousins thousands of miles away. The Wildlife Safari Elephant Department’s constant dedication to both their herd and making a positive impact for the future of elephants is exactly why they received one of IEF’s first ever Conservation Ambassador Awards. IEF is proud to have conservation partners like Wildlife Safari!