Happy Birthday Namaste
September 28, 2009 – Hilo, Hawaii
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Namaste, the white Bengal tiger, celebrated his 11th birthday on Saturday.
Namaste is one of the most popular animals found in the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens in Hilo, Hawaii. The tiger’s autumn birthday is celebrated every year, when he is given pumpkins as a special gift.
Although Namaste could crush the pumpkins with his jaws, the zoo staff says, he instead opts to roll the pumpkins around and play for days afterwards. On his birthday, however, he choose to collect the pumpkins in order to hide them in his enclosure’s bamboo patch for later.
Namaste also received a cake – two bones embedded in ice to form the number 11 – which he was very interested in.
The nonprofit Friends of the Pana’ewa Zoo hosted a mini-festival surrounding the date, with music and food booths.
This year the Waiakea High School Band, Lobo Del Mar, the Hawaii County Band and others jammed in the rain during the celebration. A new Namaste Rain Shelter Mural was dedicated, birthday banners for Namaste were signed and families took photos with a life-sized plush white tiger at the Zoo Information Booth. He also reportedly received a large pillow of catnip.
Namaste was hand-raised in Las Vegas and donated to the zoo by magician, Dirk Arthur.
“Namaste” is an Sanskrit word that is loosely translated as “Aloha”. There are only about 250 white Bengal tigers in captivity, according to the zoo.