Lucky, the San Antonio Zoo’s oldest elephant, celebrates her 60th birthday


Zookeeper Randee Gonzalez, not seen, sprays water onto Lucky, a 54-year-old female elephant, on June 12, 2014, at the San Antonio Zoo. Gonzalez said Lucky receives a bath every morning but will be hosed down again on hot days to cool off. If she is thirsty, Lucky will open her mouth to indicate so, and will even use her trunk to splash water on the rest of her body. After Lucky is sprayed, Gonzalez said, the elephant will shower sand on herself, which sticks to her moist skin and helps her cool down. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Timonthy Tai)

Sunday is one lucky elephant’s birthday and she received a celebration almost as big as she is.

Lucky, an Asian elephant at the San Antonio Zoo, turned 60 on Sunday, reaching an age more than a decade older than her species’ average life expectancy.

The zoo celebrated Lucky’s birthday on Facebook Live, showing off her exhibit decked out in edible decorations and birthday signs as well as a massive cake made from vegetables and fruits.

“The significance of Lucky being 60 years old is very big,” one of the zoo’s animal care specialists said during Lucky’s livestreamed birthday celebration.

“It’s a tribute to the care that they get with our staff. Their wild counterparts do not live as long because again their teeth wear down, their eyesight changes, even their hearing and their skin is sensitive.”

Fans of Lucky were able to watch her and her two elephant friends, Nichole and Karen, snack on her birthday treats on the livestream.

Lucky has been at the San Antonio Zoo since 1962. She’s known by her keepers as being one of the sweetest and most laid-back elephants at the zoo. The big girl is a fan of treats and playing fetch.

Most Asian elephants in the wild live for an average of 48 years and elephants at the zoo tend to live longer because they receive special food, daily foot work and body checks, according to the zoo. It costs the zoo $3,500 a month to feed one Asian elephant, Tim Morrow, the zoo’s president said in an email.

The zoo, which is hurting financially due to the coronavirus lockdown, used the celebration as an opportunity to do some fundraising.

“Unlike most zoos in the country, San Antonio Zoo depends 100% on ticket sales, guest spending, grants, and donations to operate. With no visitors, the zoo has lost almost the entirety of its income,” Morrow said, before asking for donations.


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