GUATEMALA CITY – With a cake made of watermelon, papaya, bananas, carrots and corncobs, Guatemala’s elephant Trompita celebrated her 56th birthday on Sunday.
The pachyderm, whose original name is Bombi, is an Asian elephant rescued by the La Aurora zoo from a circus in 2008 and subsequently adopted as a special member of the family.
Tropita’s handler and “lifelong friend,” Romeo Lopez – better known in the circus world as “Tarzan Lopez” – told EFE that the elephant and he have been together since they were both 7 years old.
“We grew up together and have a special connection,” he said.
Since their early years, the pair have grown up, cried and laughed together, and there’s an unspoken bond between them, according to Lopez. When the circus was forced to shut down, they offered him $300,000 for Trompita, “but I would have felt like Judas. I couldn’t sell her.”
“She’s a very sweet elephant, very calm and she’s very well cared-for here,” he added, noting that they’ve shared all sorts of experiences together. “I even play soccer with her and she does it super well. She’s better than all other players in the world, even (Argentine soccer icon Lionel) Messi,” he said laughing.
After 48 years together, Lopez said that Trompita often just has to look at him and “she knows what’s going on.”
She devoured her birthday cake and threw dirt on her back with her trunk to protect herself from the sun.
Trompita eats an average of 400 pounds of fruits and vegetables each day, and it is expected that she could live to age 70 in captivity, although elephants in the wild have a tough time making it to 60.