African Elephant Lilac Turns 40

May 24, 2018

When I was asked to write a blog to honor Lilac’s 40th birthday, I thought to myself, “How can I put into words how remarkable Lilac is?”; “How can I express what a special elephant she is and how much she means to me?” It isn’t going to be easy, but I’ll do my best.

Lilac has been a guest favorite at Seneca Park Zoo since her arrival in 1979, when she was approximately a year and a half old. Lilac is the smallest of our four female African elephants, weighing in at 7,200 pounds. What she lacks in size she most certainly makes up for in personality! Her small stature allows her to be quick and agile, which helps in her role as the herd’s matriarch. Lilac is always full of surprises and she likes to keep her trainers guessing. Just when you think you’ve got her figured out she does something unexpected! There is never a dull moment with Lilac – she has a spunky personality!

Zoo keepers try not to have favorites when it comes to the animals under their care, but I must admit that Lilac holds a special place in my heart. I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to work with her for the last 20 years. My time spent with her has truly enriched my life and I can only hope that I have had a positive impact on her life. She has taught me so much – patience, perseverance, and trust, just to name a few.  I am so thankful for the bond that we share.

African elephant Lilac

During your next trip to the Zoo, be sure to visit Lilac in A Step into Africa. Her beauty and wonderful personality may inspire you to take action for her counterparts in natural range. It’s estimated that 96 elephants are poached each day in Africa for their ivory. With your help, we can continue making strides toward decreasing that number. If you want to support efforts that will help save this species from extinction, attend one of our ZooBrew events this summer. A portion of every ticket sold goes to the International Elephant Foundation (IEF), a long-standing conservation partner of the Seneca Park Zoo Society that is dedicated to saving elephants and their habitats worldwide.

– Sue Rea, Zoologist

Photos courtesy of Sue Rea