Written by Andrea Pohlman
On February 7th, the Houston Zoo’s elephant care team celebrated Duncan’s 1st birthday! With help from the Zoo’s commissary staff, the elephants were treated to birthday cakes made with soaked grain and frosted in peanut butter.
Streamers and a banner were hung in the elephant exhibit, and a wrapped present was hung for Duncan to play with. Duncan’s birthday cake was decorated with kale, broccoli and a number “1” made out of strawberries.
After their morning bath, Duncan and 24-year old mom Shanti entered the exhibit, and a large crowd of zoo guests began singing “Happy Birthday”. Shanti and Duncan paused to take in the sights, smells and sounds of the birthday celebration. Shanti pulled down streamers and waved them through the air as she and Duncan approached the cake. They took their time and ate every last bite. Next was Duncan’s wrapped present hanging from a nearby pole. Shanti helped him unwrap it, and like all kids, Duncan was much more entertained by the wrapping paper than what was underneath of it. He used the paper to scratch between his legs and belly, stepped on it and even kicked it.
The elephant care team ensured the rest of the herd enjoyed Duncan’s birthday as well. Tucker and Duncan’s big brother Baylor enjoyed a cake that featured a dragon on top made from carved fruits and vegetables.
At birth, Duncan weighed in at 385 pounds. Today he weighs close to 1,400 pounds (if you are keeping track, that is a 1,000 pound gain in a year!) Duncan is still nursing, but he also eats solid foods with the herd and during his daily training sessions with the elephant care team.
Duncan still spends much of his day keeping very close to his mom, Shanti. When he is feeling more independent, big sister Tupelo keeps a close eye on him to make sure he stays out of trouble.