PORTLAND, Ore. (PORTLAND TRIBUNE) — Packy would have been 55 on Friday.
Instead of his usual vegetable birthday cake to smash and gobble, the Oregon Zoo plans to quietly mark the occasion. That is, of course, until a proposal is unveiled for a permanent life-size 3-D image of the beloved Asian elephant to be displayed at the new Elephant Lands exhibit.
Hova Najarian, the zoo’s media and public relations officer, says the zoo originally had planned a semi-permanent topiary-like sculpture to unveil around Packy’s birthday, “with the intention of creating something more permanent down the road.”
“There was so much interest and enthusiasm for a permanent sculpture that we are moving forward with those plans now,” Najarian says. “We won’t be able to complete it for his birthday, but we hope to unveil it this summer.”
Details are still being worked out on the project. Zoo staff is looking for ways to “make the concept a reality,” Najarian says. No artist has been hired for the work.
Packy was born April 14, 1962, to fanfare and media attention, the offspring of Belle and Thonglaw. He was the first elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. People traveled from around the world to Portland to see the new elephant, and zoo attendance hit 1 million visitors for the first time.
Packy was humanely euthanized Feb. 9, after zoo staff determined that his life was deteriorating because of tuberculosis. He was buried in rural Clackamas County near the graves of three other zoo elephants.
The Portland group Free the Oregon Zoo Elephants plans a rally from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. outside the zoo Saturday, April 15, to mark Packy’s birthday. The group hosts weekly rallies at the zoo to demand that the elephants be freed.
The Portland Tribune is a KOIN media partner.