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Giraffes, rhinos and wildlife safari truck represent Safari Park’s ability to connect people to wildlife

East County News Service 

November 7, 2022 (San Diego) – “Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation” will be the theme of the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s float on Monday January 2, 2023 in the 134th annual Rose Parade® presented by Honda.  (The Rose Parade, customariliy held on New Year's Day, is never held on Sundays.)

The SDZWA is an international conservation organization that partners with the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park.

Since its opening in 1972, saving species has been a key part of the San Diego Safari Park’s mission. The Safari Park in  Escondido 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.  

SDZWA float riders will include:

Barbara Durrant, Ph.D., director of reproductive sciences, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Hilary Erbland, Safari Experiences guide, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Matt Kinney, DVM, senior veterinarian, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Asha Natividad, wildlife care specialist, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Lisa Peterson, executive director, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Oliver Ryder, Ph.D., director of conservation genetics, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance

Andrew Stehley, curator of birds, San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Ollie Zirbel, lead wildlife care specialist, San Diego Zoo Safari Park 

About San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance 

San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is a nonprofit international conservation leader, committed to inspiring a passion for nature and working toward a world where all life thrives. The Alliance empowers people from around the globe to support their mission to conserve wildlife through innovation and partnerships. San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance supports cutting-edge conservation and brings the stories of their work back to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park—giving millions of guests, in person and virtually, the opportunity to experience conservation in action. The work of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance extends from San Diego to eco-regional conservation “hubs” across the globe, where their expertise and assets—including the renowned Wildlife Biodiversity Bank—are able to effectively align with hundreds of regional partners to improve outcomes for wildlife in more coordinated efforts.

By leveraging these skills in wildlife care and conservation science, and through collaboration with hundreds of partners, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance has reintroduced more than 44 endangered species to native habitats. Each year, San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance’s work reaches over 1 billion people in 150 countries via news media, social media, their websites, educational resources and San Diego Zoo Wildlife Explorers television programming, which is in children’s hospitals in 13 countries. Success is made possible by the support of members, donors and guests to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, who are Wildlife Allies committed to ensuring all life thrives. 


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