Singapore Zoo and Night Safari celebrated Singapore born and bred baby elephant, Nila Utama‘s birthday last Sunday (20 Nov) as he turned one today on 23 November 2011.

I was invited to Nila Utama’s birthday tea party together with Rachel, Asher and my parents, thanks to the wonderful folks from the Wildlife Reserves Singapore, which manages the Night Safari, Singapore Zoo, Jurong Bird Park and the upcoming River Safari. Also invited were omy Blog Club family bloggers, Edmund, Leonny and Maryann, who brought their family.

Family photo with the elephants

Family photo with the elephants

This was also my son, Asher’s first visit to the zoo. Rachel and I were very thrilled about the experience and were looking forward to the trip since we received the invitation a month ago.

At just three months old, Asher may still not be able to comprehend much of what goes on in his surrounding, but his eyes were alert and inquisitive at some points when we were at the zoo. Rachel and I were glad he did not fuss too much and was quite well-behaved throughout the event (despite the grumble face). This is just a beginning. We will bring him back to the zoo again as he grows older.

Back to the little birthday elephant; lovingly referred to as ‘Nila’ by his keepers and who is named after the Palembang prince who founded the kingdom of Singapura, received a giant birthday cake made with carrots, wheat and ice, among other ingredients.

Nila with his mother and aunts, enjoying his birthday cake

Nila with his mother and aunts, enjoying his birthday cake

Nila was born on 23 November last year to mother Nandong and father Chawang, and is the 11th addition to the population of Asian elephants at Wildlife Reserves Singapore. He was a whopping 151kg at birth, and at 11 months of age, is a healthy elephant weighing 544kg and measuring 1.38m in height. Considered large for a newborn at 1.5 times the average size, Nila arrived after 3 hours of labour. He has two siblings – 12-year-old Sang Raja which is currently at Cologne Zoo, Germany, and nine-year-old Sang Wira which still resides at the Night Safari.

Video on Nila Utama’s birth:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-vFGdJHAGSQ”]

When the keepers wheeled the cake out into the elephant enclosure, Nila promptly rushed forward to crush the cake with his feet, together with his mother and aunts.His brother, Sang Wira watched earnestly from an opposite enclosure as adult male elephants have to be kept separated from the females:

[youtube url=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BfkXsurLAtE”]

Nila and his mother, charging to stomp on the birthday cake

Nila and his mother, charging to stomp on the birthday cake

Nila Utama excitedly following his mum's lead in smashing the birthday cake

Nila Utama excitedly following his mum’s lead in smashing the birthday cake

Aunt trumpets her trunk to cheer them on

Aunt trumpets her trunk to cheer them on

Close-up of Nila Utama

Close-up of Nila Utama

Another close-up

Another close-up

Showing Asher his first sight of real life elephants

Showing Asher his first sight of real life elephants

Rachel and Asher

Rachel and Asher

Asher is happy

Asher is happy

Nila is happy too with his family

Nila is happy too with his family

The majestic Sang Wira, Nila Utama's elder brother

The majestic Sang Wira, Nila Utama’s elder brother

Asher and I with Sang Wira in the background

Asher and I with Sang Wira in the background

My parents with Asher

My parents with Asher

Rachel with our friend, Min from Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Rachel with our friend, Min from Wildlife Reserves Singapore

Guests were treated to cute, elephant-shaped mini cakes and other tea-time items when we arrived. This was followed by a gourmet safari tram ride at the Night Safari, which stops at the Asian elephants exhibit where the party for Nila and his family was held.

Dining area where guests were first ushered to upon arrival

Dining area where guests were first ushered to upon arrival

Asher was very curious of his colourful surrounding

Asher was very curious of his colourful surrounding

Some tea-time items for all guests

Some tea-time items for all guests, served in individual plates

When the food was served, Asher cried for his milk at the same time

When the food was served, Asher cried for his milk at the same time

Special Nila Utama birthday cake for everyone

Special Nila Utama birthday cake for everyone

Asher was curious about the cake

Asher was curious about the cake

Children's activity corner where they were making elephant masks

Children’s activity corner where they were making elephant masks

Riding on the zebra motif gourmet safari train

Riding on the zebra motif gourmet safari train

Family photo

Family photo

Rachel and Asher checking out the deers

Rachel and Asher checking out the deers

Checking out the water buffaloes

Checking out the water buffaloes

Close-up of a water buffalo

Close-up of a water buffalo

An exotic species of wild pigs

An exotic species of wild pigs

Nila is currently housed at the Asian elephants exhibit at the Night Safari. The birthday boy is an active calf and has his own unique quirks. Keepers noticed his strong sense of independence right from his birth. Nila is inquisitive, fun-loving and likes to swim and wallow in the mud whenever he has the chance.

Check out the official Night Safari website if you would like to visit Nila and his family or find out more about the Asian elephants at the Night Safari. 🙂