On Jan. 2, 2023, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance—an international conservation organization with “two front doors”: the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—will participate in the 134th Rose Parade® presented by Honda, with a float celebrating the Safari Park’s 50th anniversary.
The Safari Park opened in 1972 and since the beginning, saving species has been a key part of the Safari Park’s mission. The Safari Park has played a huge role in the conservation of species ranging from condors and hornbills to rhinos and elephants. With its theme “Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation,” the float depicts rhinos, giraffes and the Safari Park’s iconic Wildlife Safari experience, and brings to life the Safari Park’s ability to connect guests with wildlife and create life-changing moments.
“Unlike any other place on Earth, the Safari Park transports guests into sprawling landscapes and dynamic ecosystems teeming with amazing wildlife, offering one-of-a-kind experiences where stories of nature and conservation come to life,” said Paul Baribault, president and chief executive officer, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. “Conservation starts with people—and at the Safari Park, we are able to make a connection between our guests and wildlife every day. Our hope is connecting people to wildlife will inspire them to help support our mission and our global conservation programs to protect endangered wildlife.”
The “Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation” float features 4-month-old Neville, and his mother Livia, two southern white rhinos who bring enormous hope to the cutting-edge efforts to save the distantly related northern white rhino. With only two northern white rhinos left on Earth, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is combining groundbreaking conservation science with more than a century of world-class wildlife expertise to save the species. Neville is the third rhino born as part of this revolutionary program at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park—joining Edward and Future, who also made history as the first southern white rhinos born through artificial insemination in North America.
Secure on her 4-foot legs, is Msituni (pronounced see tune neee), an 11-month-old giraffe born at the Safari Park. Born unable to walk, a condition in which she would not have survived in her native habitat, she required months of critical around-the-clock care, along with several pairs of custom giraffe-sized orthotic leg braces, to support her while she gained the necessary strength to walk. Today, after making a full recovery, Msituni runs alongside dozens of giraffes, wildebeest, impalas, rhinos, and Cape buffalo in the Safari Park’s African savannas.
A pair of African crowned cranes meander through lush landscapes, as Msituni’s parents peek with curiosity into an open-air safari truck filled with guests. The riders are wildlife care specialists, veterinarians and conservation scientists from the Safari Park who have dedicated their lives to caring for Neville, Msituni and countless other species in San Diego and around the globe. They are joined by the Safari Park’s Executive Director, Lisa Peterson, and expert wildlife guides from the Safari Park. Representing how a moment at the Safari Park can change a lifetime, are four young children who may aspire to be the next generation of conservationists, surrounded by the wonders of wildlife and intricate beauty of nature.
The planned floral array on the float will illustrate that both the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and San Diego Zoo are accredited botanical gardens that feature over 2 million plants—and serve as a reminder of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s dedication to plant conservation through its many efforts, including the Wildlife Biodiversity Bank.
The Safari Park’s 1,800 acres are home to vital conservation efforts, with more than 3,600 individual animals from more than 300 species, and a botanical collection of more than 1.75 million plants. The Safari Park welcomes more than 1 million guests each year, providing an ideal setting for visitors to connect with nature and wildlife, while supporting San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s conservation efforts worldwide.