KEEPERS at West Midland Safari Park have thrown a birthday party for their youngest elephant and invited some special guests along to help him celebrate.

Children from the reception class at Bewdley Primary School have spent the week making preparations for African elephant, Sutton’s, fifth birthday party, including wrapping presents, decorating a big balloon and making party hats.

As the children are all aged five themselves, they knew exactly what a young elephant turning the same age would like and suggested that no party is complete without a cake.

Keepers agreed and prepared a huge triple-tiered, elephant-friendly cake, which the children then decorated.

The children and keepers then watched as Sutton excitedly opened his presents and shared his cake and birthday treats with his mum, 27-year-old Five.

Head of elephants, Andy Plumb, said, “All three of our elephants are very special to us, but we especially like to celebrate Sutton’s birthday as he was born at the Park, so we’ve literally watched him grow from day one. We wanted to do something special for his fifth birthday, as the number five is very significant to Sutton in particular - not only is his mum called ‘Five’, he was also born on the fifth day of the fifth month (5th May) at 5.30pm.

“We always like to include the local community with what’s happening at the Park, so we thought what better party guests for Sutton’s birthday than a bunch of local five-year-olds! The children had clearly worked very hard to come up with ideas for the birthday party and we loved seeing them in their elephant party hats, having just as much fun decorating the cake as Sutton did eating it.”

Kidderminster Shuttle:

Sutton is the first and only baby elephant to be born at the Park in its 46-year history and was eagerly awaited, following a lengthy 22-month pregnancy. He was born under extraordinary circumstances, as was the second elephant calf in the world born following artificial insemination, using frozen semen from a wild bull elephant.

Sutton was named after inspirational teenager Stephen Sutton, following a Facebook competition where over 4,000 people chose the name as a tribute. Stephen had visited the Park and had his picture taken with Five in January 2014, before Sutton was born, as part of his bucket list to “Hug an animal that is bigger than me”.

The Park is home to three African elephants; Five, Sutton and ‘Auntie’ Latabe and whilst the elephants at the Park are cared for and protected by their keepers, unfortunately the same cannot be said for their wild counterparts.