My dear wife Karen and I appreciated a Netflix movie by the title of Holiday in the Wild. OK, that’s a bit of a tease to my upcoming Monday Movie Review.
But while watching, it also brought me back a decade, to the day when my music writer’s job at the big daily brought me to the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse for a photo session with the members of rock band Elephant Mountain, an accommodating handler and the real star of the show, a real ham, a big and burly and beloved resident of our zoo.
Playful Siri the elephant really enjoyed the time spent with musicians Joe Altier, Lewk Detor, Brian “Slider” Azzoto, Dave Hoyt, John Hanus and I.
From the zoo’s Facebook page:
Siri the Asian elephant has been the star of the Rosamond Gifford Zoo for 47 years since she arrived from the Lincoln Park Zoo in 1972 at age 5.
Over the years, Siri has been the catalyst for the zoo’s major overhaul in the 1980s as well as an ambassador for several improvement projects including the Helga Beck Asian Elephant Preserve, the 50,000-gallon “green” elephant watering hole and the recent expansion of the elephant preserve to almost 7 acres.
Siri also is credited with starting the modern animal art movement, after her caretakers noticed she would often use a stick or stone to draw in the sand. They gave her pencils and paper and, finally paint, brushes and canvas — and she became an avid artist who still enjoys painting pictures. Several of her paintings have been auctioned for hundreds of dollars to benefit elephant conservation projects.
For Siri’s 50th birthday in 2017, the zoo celebrated a Summer of Siri and held a Pennies for Pachyderms fundraiser to aid her counterparts in the wild. With help from her many fans, Siri’s fundraiser raised over $7,000! The zoo sent $3,000 to the International Elephant Foundation and $3,000 to the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program for Asian elephant conservation.
Siri is now in retirement, so she’s not always on exhibit. The zoo created this page for her to keep in touch with her public. Stay tuned here for updates on Siri, our elephant herd and other zoo animals and events.
Told you she was a cool customer!