How do you celebrate a milestone anniversary at African Lion Safari? With cake? No. Presents? No. Introduce the newest member of your animal family to the public? Yes! Enter Sunita – the youngest member of the Asian Elephant herd at African Lion Safari who makes her public debut when the gates open for the park’s 50th anniversary season on May 4th, 2019.
This spunky 6-month old Asian elephant enjoys spending time with her mother, Natasha, and interacting and playing with the rest of the elephant herd. And while she doesn’t realize it, Sunita is a tangible reminder that the original mission of African Lion Safari continues on today: “To provide an environment for self-sustaining populations of declining wildlife species”.
That was the dream and mission of the founder of African Lion Safari, Colonel Gordon Debenham Dailley. Colonel Dailley was an esteemed member of the Canadian military and a talented athlete, who also had a passion for animals. He was particularly passionate about helping endangered species, and dreamed of starting a drive-through wildlife park dedicated to the conservation of declining wildlife species.
Friday August 22, 1969 saw the fulfillment of his dream, as the gates opened to African Lion Safari – a 700 acre wildlife park where exotic birds and animals roamed freely throughout its game reserves. While visitors have enjoyed getting closer than they ever imagined to these majestic creatures for the past 50 years, behind the scenes the team at African Lion Safari has been developing breeding and conservation programs that have earned it an international reputation for excellence in the care, management and breeding of many endangered species. Little Sunita is just one example of the success of African Lion Safari’s conservation programs. She is an Asian elephant – an endangered species with fewer than 35,000 of them currently surviving in the wild. African Lion Safari has one of the most successful Asian elephant conservation programs in North America, and Sunita is the 21st baby elephant born at African Lion Safari since 1991. Not only is it fun for visitors to snap a picture of this new baby, it’s also a chance for them to learn more about Asian elephants, and to find out what they can do to support conservation efforts.
Come join African Lion Safari as they celebrate 50 years of history, conservation and family fun! And, come say Hi to Sunita too – she can’t wait to meet you!