Rudi the elephant celebrates his birthday

The youngest member of the herd will turn 1 year old

Prague Zoo will celebrate two events on Oct. 7. The baby elephant Rudolf, popularly called Rudi, will celebrate his first birthday. It is also International Animal Day. Children under 15 who arrive wearing an animal mask can get in for a symbolic Kč 1 entry fee.

Rudi is the youngest member of the elephant herd. His name was chosen by a popular vote, and it refers to Emperor Rudolf II, who kept exotic animals including a lion at Prague Castle at the end of the 16th and start of the 17th century. The baby elephant Rudi was born Oct. 7 to the female Indian elephant Tamara. The father is Ankhor, currently the only adult male elephant at the zoo.

Rudi is just the second elephant conceived and born at Prague Zoo. The other is Maxi, who arrived April 5, 2016. He is also named for an emperor, Maximilian II. This elephant's mother was Janita, and his father was Mekong, who has since been moved to the zoo in Emmen, Holland.

The first elephant born at Prague Zoo was the female elephant Sita in February 2013. Her mother, Donna, came to Prague in 2012 from Rotterdam already pregnant.

The two baby male elephants have become friends and play together. Eventually when they become adults they will likely be transferred to other European zoos. The Prague Zoo has had elephants since 1933.

The Prague Zoo's Elephant Valley is the largest such compound in the Czech Republic and currently has seven elephants. It opened in 2013. The oldest elephant is the female Galub, who has been at the zoo since 1966. Other members are the male Ankhor, the females Janita, Shanti and Tamara, and babies Maxi and Rudi.

Elephants have a long history at Prague Zoo, dating back to 1933, when the elephant named Baby arrived. The 2002 floods demonstrated the need to build a new elephant compound that would not be threatened by possible flooding. The new complex cost Kč 500 million.

International Animal Day will also be celebrated at the Prague Zoo, and children can look forward to making animal masks or face painting.

At 9.30 am and again as 2 pm, the Training Center will turn into a creative workshop where animal masks will be created or small visitors can have a favorite animal painted on their faces.

At 11 o'clock, starting at the Educational Center, a cheerful parade of children in masks will go to the Elephant Valley. There, Rudi will get his presents.

At noon, a short talk about elephants will take place and then the procession will go back to the Educational Center, where the event ends with a fairytale theater performance.

Earlier this year, the Prague Zoo was ranked fifth-best in the world based on reviews from users of travel website TripAdvisor.

The entire zoo has become no smoking, and new parking lots with shuttle buses near Blanka tunnel have opened to relieve traffic near the zoo. Free WiFi is available at seven spots in the zoo.

New pavilions continue to be opened as well. Pavilions are planned for gorillas, polar bears and pandas, and the zoo is in the process of requesting a panda on loan from China.

Notable births at the zoo this year include a quintuplet of cheetahs. Aside from cheetahs, the zoo this year has seen the births of a litter of wolves, a rare white-bearded tamarin and several Komodo dragons. The zoo in 2016 saw a total of 1,191 juveniles in 223 species.

Prague Zoo currently covers 58 hectares with 50 hectares used for exhibits. It has over 4,700 animals from 681 species, including 144 species listed as threatened. The zoo has 12 pavilions and over 150 exhibits. It has been particularly active in the preservation of the Przewalski's horses, which are slowly being returned to the wild.

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