St. Louis Zoo's Raja turns 21

ST. LOUIS - He came into this world weighing 275 pounds and quickly learned he loved water.

"He used to swim in a little pool and spray the public with water," said Gayle Fogarty, a zoo visitor.

Raja was a fan favorite from the moment he was born and as you can see, still knows how to draw a crowd.

"I'm excited to be at Raja's birthday party," said one little boy.

But chances are he doesn't want the same presents because this 10,000-pound pachyderm's gift boxes are mostly filled with popcorn and peanuts. Then again, he also took a bite out of the boxes, which are edible for elephants.

"Well, you see them eating trees, right? The bark and all that stuff, and essentially that's what cardboard is," said Cory Nordin, zoological manager of River's Edge.

Actually, his best present was a tree with a big root ball.

"They'll eat, dirt it, gives them some minerals, but more than anything they really seem to like the roots themselves," Nordin said.

It's a delicacy, something different for a 21st birthday in the land of Budweiser, but a birthday bash St. Louisans always look forward to.


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