The float theme, “Celebrating 50 Years of Conservation,” depicted rhinos, giraffes and the park’s wildlife safari experience. The rhinos seemingly came to life as they turned their heads, while the giraffes moved their long necks to bend down for a cool drink of water from a waterfall.
“We are humbled and honored to receive the Animation Award, but more importantly, we are grateful the Rose Parade gave San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance and our Safari Park an opportunity to bring our conservation message to a global audience,” said Paul A. Baribault, president and chief executive officer of the alliance.
The Safari Park opened in 1972, and saving species has been a key part of its mission. The park has played a notable role in the conservation of species ranging from condors and hornbills to rhinos and elephants.
The float featured 4-month-old Neville and his mother Livia, two southern white rhinos who represent the cutting-edge efforts to save the distantly related northern white rhino – only two northern white rhinos currently remain in existence.
Neville is the third rhino born at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, joining Edward and Future, who made history as the first southern white rhinos born through artificial insemination in North America.
Also featured was Msituni, an 11-month-old giraffe born at the Safari Park. In addition, a pair of African crowned cranes meandered through lush landscape on the float, as Msituni’s parents peeked with curiosity into an open-air safari truck filled with guests.
The riders were wildlife care specialists, veterinarians and conservation scientists from the park. They were joined by Executive Director Lisa Peterson, wildlife guides and four children representing the next generation of conservationists.
The floral array on the float illustrated that both the Safari Park and San Diego Zoo are accredited botanical gardens that feature more than 2 million plants.
The wildlife alliance had a float in the Rose Parade for the second straight year. Prior to that, the alliance last had a Rose Parade float in 1996, in celebration of the Zoo’s 80th anniversary.