Raja’s Virtual Birthday Celebration

Photo by Robin Winkelman, Saint Louis Zoo.

Virtual celebration for Raja the Asian elephant’s 28th birthday

When: 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020

Where: Online only at  

How do you celebrate a birthday in 2020? You decorate your lawn with birthday signs and gather virtually, of course! Over the last 27 years, the Saint Louis Zoo has celebrated male Asian elephant Raja’s (pronounced RAH zhä) birthday with huge signs in the form of enrichment-filled birthday presents decorating his habitat for the big day. This year, for the safety of Zoo guests, staff and the animals, Raja’s celebration is going virtual-only and everyone can join in to watch together online. There will be no birthday celebration activities at River’s Edge.

At 11 a.m. on Sunday, Dec. 27, the Zoo will premiere a very special pre-recorded video of Raja’s 28th birthday celebration at and

Earlier in the month, the elephant care team treated Raja to a private, pre-birthday surprise and recorded it to share with his fans worldwide on his actual birthday. The website also will include fun educational activities to download, elephant facts, and a digital birthday card to sign.

“We will miss having the traditional birthday bash for Raja with our guests this year, but we invite everyone to tune in and celebrate with us virtually,” said Katie Pilgram-Kloppe, Zoological Manager of River’s Edge at the Zoo. “Our professional elephant care team is dedicated to providing excellent care for Raja and the Zoo’s three-generation Asian elephant family every day of the year, but we all enjoy giving them some extra special attention on their birthdays.”

Born on Dec. 27, 1992, Raja was the first Asian elephant born at the Zoo. He is the father of three female calves at the Zoo — Maliha, 14, Jade, 13, and Priya, 7.

Asian Elephant Conservation

There are fewer than 35,000 Asian elephants left in the wild, and they are facing extinction due habitat loss and destruction. Given the shrinking population of Asian elephants, the Saint Louis Zoo is committed to conserving this endangered species. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Asian Elephant Conservation supports the welfare and conservation of Asian elephants in Sumatra and other countries in Asia, India and Myanmar. The Saint Louis Zoo WildCare Institute Center for Conservation in the Horn of Africa also supports conservation of African elephants in Kenya through the Northern Rangelands Trust.

More Information

For more information on the virtual celebration and the Zoo’s elephant family, visit For information about Zoo hours and reservations, visit

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