Birthday bash for Auckland Zoo elephant

Anjalee celebrates her ninth birthday (Grace Cabell/3 News)
Anjalee celebrates her ninth birthday (Grace Cabell/3 News)

A party has been held for Auckland Zoo's newest arrival, and it's one she won't forget anytime soon.

Today crowds of onlookers watched as Sri Lankan elephant Anjalee celebrated her ninth birthday.

Anjalee moved into the zoo in June and shares a room with the zoo's older female elephant, Burma.

The eight-year-old arrived in New Zealand after a three-month quarantine stay in Niue.

Of course no celebration is complete without cake, and Anjalee's consisted of two buckets of raisins, dates, runny honey and molasses made by zoo volunteers.

Burma, 32, has been living alone since her friend, Kashin, died in 2009.

She also joined in on the day's festivities and will turn 33 later this month.

Auckland Zoo director Jonathan Winkelman said it had been a successful friendship so far.

"It gives Berma the beginnings of the family and the security she needs. She's been over five years without a companion and Anjalee is just filling that gap."

The zoo hopes to add a third elephant next year, who would also come from Sri Lanka.

Auckland Zoo head of life sciences Kevin Buley also said the pair was getting on better than ever expected.

"It's going really, really good. We're struggling to think how it could have been better."

He said the pair had made strong bonds with the staff.

Anjalee is the first of a new step-family of elephants planned by the zoo over the next 10 years.

3 News