Samudra celebrates his first year with 8,000 pals and a little peanut butter at the Oregon Zoo

By Karen J. Quan
Updated August 29, 2009 01:24 AM

Look who’s a big, big boy now! Samudra, a 1,304-lb. baby Asian elephant, celebrated his first birthday Aug. 23 with about 8,000 pals– visitors who came to the Oregon Zoo just to help him blow out the carrot candle on his peanut butter cake.

“We’re bringing [the people] closer to Samudra as much as we can,” Bob Lee, Oregon Zoo’s Senior Elephant Keeper tells PEOPLE Pets.

Samudra, a.k.a. Sam for short, kicked off his Sunday bash by showing guests what he does on a normal day, which included bath time and playtime. But the highlight was when he was presented with not one but two birthday cakes!

He dove into his first treat (literally!), a snow cake assembled by volunteers out of ice from a nearby skating rink. Sending Samudra into play mode, the little guy knew exactly what to do next.

“He smashes it and rolls around in it,” Lee says. “It’s exciting and fun every time he sees it.”

A little more traditional, Samudra’s second cake was made of whole wheat, peanut butter and sweet potato mash, topped off with a carrot candle. Like your typical toddler, he managed to send cake everywhere, smashing it all over the place and getting what he could into his mouth.

But the afternoon would not have been complete without the serenade Samudra received from the crowd. Commending them for their connection to the elephant program, Lee admits that it was the fans, not the staff, that led the birthday sing-along. Here’s wishing Samudra a happy first year, and many more to come!

Click here to see a video of Samudra’s celebration!