The rain was no match for the ‘King of the Zoo’

Ira%2C+5%2C+with+food+coloring+from+his+birthday+cake+around+his+face+at+America%27s+Teaching+Zoo+on+Saturday%2C+Feb.+2%2C+2019.+Photo+credit%3A+Jakob+Marcus
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The rain was no match for the ‘King of the Zoo’

Ira, 5, with food coloring from his birthday cake around his face at America's Teaching Zoo on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Photo credit: Jakob Marcus

Ira, 5, with food coloring from his birthday cake around his face at America's Teaching Zoo on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Photo credit: Jakob Marcus

Ira, 5, with food coloring from his birthday cake around his face at America's Teaching Zoo on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Photo credit: Jakob Marcus

Ira, 5, with food coloring from his birthday cake around his face at America's Teaching Zoo on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2019. Photo credit: Jakob Marcus

By Margot Rowe

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Even though the predictions of rain were accurate, visitors still attended Moorpark College’s birthday celebration for Ira, “King of the Zoo.” However, some festivities were moved indoor due to the weather conditions.

“The only thing not coming inside is Ira himself,” said Mara Rodriguez, the Zoo-Operations Instructional Lab Technician. “Ira’s birthday party is always a blast and after his first birthday, we realized how much the community loves celebrating Ira.”

Guests of the zoo celebrated by making their own crowns, face painting, and even signing a giant birthday card for Ira. They also offered some chocolate or vanilla birthday cake which thankfully, was not the special blood cake that Ethan Maki described as what Ira receives. Maki is a zoology student and is currently Ira’s trainer.

“It’s blocks of ice and blood, with meat, and it has feathers on top,” said Maki.

The blood cake took over 2 days to make due to the process of freezing the water. It is decorated with edible food coloring, meat sprinkles, and pigeon feathers.

When 12:30 p.m. struck, visitors of the zoo gathered around Ira’s enclosure and the students of the zoology program gave him cake and presents. Guests were delighted to see Ira dive across the ramp and enjoy his cake. He ended up knocking the cake over, shattering the ice blocks. That did not slow him down and he ended up with blue and green food coloring all over his face.

“I’m really liking the event,” said Adriana Estrada, who brought her family to the event. “The zoo looks beautiful and we can go explore.”

Her daughter Gianna Sanchez enjoyed the crown making the most.

Ira’s favorite gifts are food related according to the zoo staff, but this birthday provided an opportunity to announce a gift to visitors that was more appetizing the meat cake.

Due to current and future sponsorships, Ira is going to be built a new enclosure. Construction for Ira’s new enclosure will start in about three months and hopefully the “King of Zoo” can rule his kingdom in his new castle within the next year.

If you missed Ira’s birthday, there is always next year! The Moorpark zoo puts on several events throughout the year for the community to enjoy and learn about wildlife.

The next upcoming event is the Spring Spectacular in March, where the college’s zoology students will be coordinating the event and performing a variety of animal shows.

“People should come to every event at the zoo,” said Rodriguez. “Every time we have an event here, there’s a different experience, different theme, it’s around a different holiday. All of our events are aimed to give our guests a different experience.”

For more updates on events at America’s Teaching Zoo, check out Moorpark College’s Website or follow America’s Teaching Zoo on Instagram or Facebook.

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