Everyone's invited to party with the pachyderms at Cleveland Metroparks Zoo before they pack up their trunks and leave for Columbus.
Join us on Saturday, August 23, for Cleveland Metroparks Zoo's Trunk Party: A Celebration No Elephant Could Forget. "Elephantastic " activities run from 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., featuring entertainment, giveaways, elephant enrichment demonstrations and more.
As part of their send-off, the Zoo's three elephants will enjoy jumbo-sized "cakes " made of their favorite treats like carrots and ketchup, snack on some giant watermelons, show off their painting skills and get midday baths. Visitors to the Zoo's Trunk Party can sign a giant farewell card for the pachyderms and their keepers and make their own elephant-ear headbands at the Pachyderm Building.
The celebration comes as the Zoo prepares to temporarily move its three female African elephants to the Columbus Zoo prior to construction of African Elephant Crossing. Expected to open in 2011, African Elephant Crossing will be a state-of-the-art elephant habitat that will more than quadruple the amount of space the Zoo dedicates to elephants and provide them with naturalistic, stimulating surroundings.
The Zoo's elephants are expected to move some time after Labor Day and return to Cleveland prior to the grand opening of African Elephant Crossing.
" Of course it's difficult to say goodbye to these elephants, but it's necessary so we can build them the best home possible here in Cleveland, " said Zoo Director Steve Taylor. "When they come back they'll have one of the best elephant exhibits in the country, and they'll be joined by more elephants from other zoos. "
The August 23 Trunk Party also will serve as a "retirement party " of sorts for the Zoo's 54-year-old Nile hippo "Blackie, " who also will be leaving the Pachyderm Building prior to construction. As part of the festivities, Blackie will enjoy some of his favorite treats, and his keepers will talk with visitors about how they care for the second-oldest hippo in North America.
The Zoo currently is building an addition – complete with swimming pool – to the giraffe barn for Blackie. He'll be moved there before major construction starts on African Elephant Crossing this fall.
Other Trunk Party highlights will include performances by cellists in elephant costumes, trunks full of treats for other animals, Radio Disney's Street Team, a meet-and-greet with Kim Johnson from WZAK and chances to see a scale model of African Elephant Crossing.
The first 5,000 people to arrive at the Trunk Party will receive a commemorative postcard featuring photos of elephants Moshi, Jo and Martika. A thousand lucky kids also will receive a Trunk Party sticker.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo has more than a century of experience caring for elephants, and its commitment to African Elephant Crossing represents a long-term investment in improving the future for elephants.
As the Zoo's largest capital project since the opening of The RainForest in 1992, African Elephant Crossing will house up to 10 elephants, including at least one male and eventually calves. The facility also will feature meerkats, naked mole rats, an African rock python, a spectacular collection of colorful birds and an education village where visitors can learn about elephants and their status as an endangered species.
Cleveland Metroparks has budgeted $11.5 million over the next three years for African Elephant Crossing construction and additional related costs. The Cleveland Zoological Society, the Zoo's non-profit fundraising partner, has launched its larges-ever capital campaign to raise $12.5 million for African Elephant Crossing construction and operational costs.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo is an affordable and close-to-home getaway for Northeast Ohio. Hours are10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Admission is $10 per person, $6 for kids ages 2 to 11 and free for children under 2 and Zoo members. Parking is free. Located at 3900 Wildlife Way, the Zoo is easily accessible from Interstates 71, 77, 90 and 480.
To learn more about African Elephant Crossing, visit clemetzoo.com/elephants, or call (216) 661-6500.