Celebrate Cincinnati Zoo’s Most Famous Elephant’s 40th Birthday

Posted April 30, 2013

40-year-olds get FREE Admission!

CINCINNATI – Happy 40th Birthday to “Mai-Thai”, the Cincinnati Zoo’s oldest and most recognized Asian elephant!  On Wednesday, May 1, at 10:30 a.m., the Zoo will celebrate Mai-Thai’s BIG milestone with a larger than life pachyderm cake, singing and friends new and old alike.   The cake, which consists of frozen gelatin, Kool-aid, and mountains of fresh produce and fruit, including watermelon, pineapple, grapes and more, was made just for the celebration by the Zoo’s animal nutritionist and commissary staff.  (Photo Opportunity – Media are invited to see Mai-Thai receive her cake while being serenaded by Zoo visitors and staff at 10:30 a.m.)

The Zoo is inviting visitors to come serenade Mai-Thai with “Happy Birthday” as she gets her cake.    The party starts promptly at 10:30 a.m., and Mai-Thai’s elephant friends, “Schottzie” and “Jati” will be joining in on the fun, with delicious treats made just for them.

To add to the celebration, an old friend of Mai-Thai’s will be joining the Zoo for the morning!  Cecil Jackson, Sr., an animal trainer at the Zoo for nearly 50 years, will be making a special appearance to say Happy Birthday to his old friend. Mai-Thai was donated to the Cincinnati Zoo from the Bardes Family on February 14, 1974 at 9- months- old.   Cecil Jackson Sr. hand-picked Mai-Thai out of a group of orphaned elephants from Bangkok, Thailand.   Over the last 40 years she has served as an ambassador animal for the Cincinnati Zoo, representing all of her Asian elephant counterparts in the wild.  Many will recognize Mai-Thai as the elephant that marched both on-stage for the Opera Aida and in the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parades, handed out the first pitch out to several folks on the Reds pitching mound, and attended parties at the famous Marge Schott’s home in Indian Hill.

The Cincinnati Zoo helps fund Conservation Response Units at the Seblat Elephant Conservation Center in Sumatra, where trained elephants work with rangers to monitor forest crime and the status of elephants and other wildlife.  Elephants are the largest land animal in the world, with the African elephant being slightly larger than the Asian elephant. Asian elephants weigh an average of 6,000 to 11,000 pounds and can grow up to 10 feet tall. Asian elephants can live to be over 50 years old. They live throughout Southern Asia, and are currently on the endangered species list. Currently female Asian elephants out-number male Asian elephants in the United States five to one.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is open 364 days a year.