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No denying it: Little Packy's hit middle age

ZOO PREVIEW: Elephantastic
by: COURTESY OF THE OREGON ZOO, Join Packy, a 7-ton native Portlander for a weekendlong bash at the Oregon Zoo in honor of him and his son Rama, who’s turning a plucky 24.

In 1962 Packy made headlines around the world as the first Asian elephant born in the Western Hemisphere in 44 years. Since his birth at the Oregon Zoo, Packy has fathered seven calves and has grown to become the oldest, largest Asian elephant in the nation, weighing more than 14,000 pounds and standing about one story tall, at 10 feet, 6 inches.

On Saturday, the Oregon Zoo hosts Elephantastic, a celebration of Packy's 45th birthday. Packy's birthday is the longest-running event in the zoo's 120-year history.

'Portlanders have had a long love affair with pachyderms, and it all started with Packy,' says Bill LaMarche of the Oregon Zoo. 'Packy really put Portland on the map when he was born in 1962; this year, he's celebrating a big milestone.'

Festivities include face painting and games, as well as the opportunity for between 50 and 100 kids to participate in a parade to deliver Packy's 40-pound birthday cake, made from whole wheat, frosting, apples, carrots and celery, baked by the zoo's chef, Paul Warner.

The trunkload of fun continues Sunday when Packy's son, Rama, will celebrate his 24th birthday. Elephant training and feeding demonstrations will take place, as well as an opportunity to see Rama paint; his gallery of paintings have raised more than $15,000 for the elephant conservation program.

Rama's Trunk Show, a show and sale featuring original artwork painted by the elephant, will take place 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Elephant Museum. Proceeds benefit the Oregon Zoo Foundation's

Future for Wildlife elephant conservation program.

- Suzie Ridgway

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (noon birthday cake, 2 p.m. parade and Packy's cake) SATURDAY, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (1 p.m. Rama's cake) SUNDAY, April 14-15, Oregon Zoo, 4001 S.W. Canyon Road, 503-226-1561, www.oregonzoo.org, $6.75-$9.75, free for children under 2, $1 parking per car