Raja the Elephant Just Had His 28th Birthday and, Yes, You're Old Now



We were too busy last week celebrating the end of the Worst Year Ever to realize that we were missing out on an important event: Raja’s 28th birthday!

Raja, the first Asian elephant born at the St. Louis Zoo caused a sensation in 1992 in St. Louis. It seemed like the whole region was hyped for his birth, and there was a contest held to name our adorable little prince.

For those of us who were in elementary school at the time, Raja’s birth was an unforgettable experience. All of St. Louis seemed to be swept up in the excitement, and it felt like the whole town was on pins and needles waiting for his arrival. Teachers used Raja Fever to teach their students about animals, zoos, native habitats and even geography. (Picture a teacher pointing to the southern part of Asia and saying “And this is where Raja’s family is from” and the young students murmuring interestedly in reply.)

If you’re shocked that Raja is a whole 28 years old now because you were just a kid when he was born, welcome to the club. We have bad news for you: You’re old now, too. Sorry.

But there is good news to be found here. Raja has thrived during his life at the St. Louis Zoo, which isn’t always the case with animals in captivity. By all indications, he is healthy his bloodline will live on, too — Raja has sired three daughters, Maliha, fourteen; Jade, thirteen; and Priya, seven.

Asian elephants in captivity often live to be around 80 years old, so we’re hoping that Raja will have many more birthdays ahead of him.

If you want to see our boy open his (environment-enriching) birthday gifts, check out the video above. And for a printable activity book centered around Raja’s birthday, download and save this file that includes a coloring sheet and facts about Raja and the eight other elephants at the St. Louis Zoo.

Email the author at jaime.lees@riverfronttimes.com
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