Sutton, the gorgeous baby African elephant at West Midland Safari Park has turned two years old and has celebrated his birthday with some help from a local Beaver Scout Group.
Elephant keepers at the Park decided that there was only one birthday present Sutton would really appreciate this year — a birthday cake made up of mounds of his favourite food.
Making a cake fit for a growing elephant calf is no easy feat, so keepers called upon some local Beaver Scouts for help. Within half an hour the cake, (made up of elephant feed, bread and fruit), was complete and ready to be devoured by Sutton and mum Five.
Head Keeper of Elephants, Andy Plumb said, “It’s been a real pleasure watching Sutton grow and progress over the last two years. He now weighs a whopping 790kg and is almost four feet tall to the shoulder. His tusks have started to grow and last week he lost his first ever tooth!
“Our elephants’ favourite thing is food, so there is no better birthday present than a cake made up of some of their most loved treats. It also contained some specially formulated elephant feed, which includes vital vitamins and minerals, so not only is it extremely tasty and fun to dismantle, it’s nutritional too. Let’s hope that the ‘terrible twos’ stage doesn’t exist with cheeky elephant calves!”
Melanie Williams, Beaver Scout Leader added, “KD9 Beaver Scouts were delighted to celebrate baby Sutton’s second birthday with him and present him with an enormous cake that they had decorated.The beavers were tempted to have a piece, until they were told of its special ingredients, so settled for a grape instead.
“We all felt very privileged to have had this unique opportunity to get up close to the famous Sutton and his mum in their safe habitat. The Beavers spoke about how very important it is that these animals are protected at the Safari Park in order for future generations to see and appreciate them when they visit.”
Once the cake had been presented to the elephants, it didn’t last long. Both Sutton and Five used their powerful trunks to pick it apart and toss the tasty morsels into their mouths.
Presenting food in various ways is an important part of an Elephant Keeper’s job and is part of a carefully devised enrichment programme to keep the elephants happy and healthy.
Sutton was born on 5th May 2014 and was the first baby elephant to be born at the Park, following artificial insemination, using semen from a wild bull in South Africa. He lives with mum, 24-year-old Five and ‘aunt’ Latabe, 23.
The elephants can be seen in the four-mile self-drive safari, included in the standard admission charge of £22.00 for adults, £17.00 for children aged 3-15 years and £20.00 for concessions. Admission includes a free-return ticket and children under the age of 3 years are admitted free of charge. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.