Oldest US Asian elephant turns 51 at Oregon Zoo

Packy turns 51
The oldest Asian elephant in the U.S., Packy, was given special cake and a party in honor of his 51st birthday. (April 14, 2013 | KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Packy the elephant turned 51-years-old Sunday.

That’s a huge milestone for the oldest male Asian elephant in the country.

The Oregon Zoo celebrated Packy’s special day with a party that included elephant ears for the kids and a 40-pound treat for Packy: a chef-made cake with frosting, apples, carrots and celery.

The “elephantastic” event is held each year on or near Packy’s birthday. It’s not unusual for some elephants to make into their 60s.

But not everyone was celebrating Packy’s birthday.

Protesters outside the Oregon Zoo, which is in southwest Portland, gathered to convince curators to retire Packy to a sanctuary where he can live out the rest of his life.

“Fifty-one years in captivity does not a happy birthday make,” said protester Eric Phelps. “The Oregon Zoo uses these events once a year to raise money, and the other 364 days he’s kept in a concrete cell.”

Zoo officials tell KOIN 6 News they are creating a much larger enclosure for Packy, and the zoo’s other elephants, to spend time in. The zoo has been working on that enclosure for quite a while now.

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