HOHENWALD, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, located 85 miles southwest of Nashville in Hohenwald, Tennessee, celebrated the Asian elephant Shirley’s 72nd birthday and 21st year at the sanctuary.
Shirley has lived well beyond the life span of a captive Asian elephant and defies the odds as being one of the oldest elephants in the sanctuary as well.
Born in Sumatra in 1948, Shirley was captured from the wild and sold to a circus, where she performed in front of audiences for more than 20 years.
She is the oldest elephant at the sanctuary and holds the record for the third oldest elephant in North America.
Shirley’s caregivers surprised her with a strawberry-topped vegan cake, watermelon wedges, rice paper balloons and banana leaves. They also made her a birthday banner with natural tempera paint and gave her hay bales, bamboo and her favorite-bananas! Shirley devoured her cake in one bite and saved some icing on her trunk for later. Shirley also tossed the hay bales in the air and on her back to celebrate to special day.
The sanctuary shared videos of the birthday celebration on its website. Click here to watch.