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Elephant captured in Eswatini turns 57 years in California

By Khulile Thwala

An elephant weighing 3 720kg by the name of Lulu has celebrated her 57th birthday at the Performing Animals Welfare Society (PAWS) sanctuary after being rescued from the San Fransisco Zoo.

Lulu is a female Southern African elephant first captured in 1968 in Eswatini, and she was a captive resident of the San Francisco Zoo from two years old to 38 years old. She was rescued by PAWS and moved to the nonprofit organisation’s sanctuary outside San Andreas in March 2005.

According to The Union Democrat, Lulu stands eight feet tall from her front feet to the top of her head, and she got a specially-made cake for her estimated 57th birthday celebration at PAWS.

“Considering her circumstances, that she had a life of captivity before she came to us, at 57 she’s old for an elephant in the wild,” said Dr Chris Draper, 47, of Murphys, who is chief operations officer at PAWS the past two years and is originally from Hampshire, England.

At the same time, 57 years “is not old for an elephant in the wild,” said Draper, who has visited wild elephants in Africa in their natural habitats. “African elephants still breed into their 60s. In the wild, she would still be in her prime, and she’d live well into her late 60s, so long as poachers wouldn’t go after her.”

At the birthday bash, Priscilla Chalmers, a PAWS volunteer, said she used wheat bran, carrots, apple sauce, flour, grapefruit, and zucchini to make special cakes for Lulu and Toka, a 53-year-old female African elephant who shares space with Lulu.

“I’ve visited areas where elephants like Lulu should live,” Draper said. “Kenya, Ethiopia, and South Africa. That’s where she should be. She should not be in Calaveras County. We’re glad she’s here, but she should have a life in the wild.”

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