We’re wishing elephant Burma a Happy 41st Birthday today and our amazing team of elephant keepers are making sure she has the best day - action packed with all her favourite activities, and food!

Her day started with a beautiful early morning (pre-Zoo opening) walk with the team where she got to hang out and browse in some of her favourite (non-visitor) bush areas as well as wander through our main grounds to say hi and receive a few birthday breakfast treats from some of her adoring Zoo whānau.

Next up - a swim and play session for this water-loving pachyderm followed by the ultimate treat – the opportunity to roll about and cover herself in some lovely fresh, soft and fluffy ‘screened’ topsoil (super fun and excellent for her skin!) before chomping into some browse of choice, Ficus macrophylla (Morton Bay fig).

As you can see from our footage and photos, Burma loved it!

“As a 41-year-old Asian elephant, Burma is now over middle-aged. Much like some of us as we age, she’s naturally a bit stiffer in her joints and muscles, but she still has plenty of energy, a love of play, and her cheeky spirit,” says elephant team leader Andrew.

“To keep her as flexible and physically and mentally fit and healthy as possible, we’re very pro-active with the wide range of treatments we regularly give her. These are additional to her daily workouts, walks and enrichments, and the transport crate training sessions we do in preparation for next year’s move to Monarto Safari Park - which she still really enjoys.

“Burma regularly has Equissage, which uses Cycloidal Vibration Therapy (CVT). This is fantastic for her circulation, lymphatic system, muscles, and joints. As the name suggests it’s primarily used on horses and we’re very fortunate to have had a Equissage machine donated by Equissage Therapy NZ,” says Andrew.

“Thanks to equine physiotherapist Lindsay Skinner, who generously donates her time and specialist skills on a weekly basis, Burma also receives a range of other very beneficial treatments. These range from massage and pulsed electromagnetic therapy (a low frequency energy using energy waves that work with the body’s natural magnetic field to improve healing) to dry needling – to help increase blood flow.”

Andrew and the team also do balance pad sessions with Burma. Spongy balance pads, which she stands on, and the team have trained her to lift her feet up and down on – tap into her nervous system through her feet. This helps to enhance her stability and create new neural pathways which contributes to increasing her awareness of the position and movement of her body.  

“Everything we do for Burma, and all the quality time we spend with her, keeps life very full, interesting, fun, and stimulating, to positively contribute to her overall wellbeing while we manage her on her own. For us, the upside of Burma not moving last year as we’d originally planned, is that we keepers get to enjoy more time with her, and she with us - here in Auckland. We’re really happy that our visitors also get to experience and enjoy her for a bit longer.

“Now that we’re heading into the warmer months, Burma has already started sleeping outside at night, and we’re starting to do a lot more pool sessions. She’ll be getting into a lot more dustbathing and enjoying her mud wallows too, and we’re looking forward to having a great summer with her.”