PASADENA, Calif. — When the 134th Rose Parade rolls through the streets of Pasadena, San Diego will share a message of conservation. In this Zevely Zone, I headed to Pasadena to take a sneak peek at the San Diego Safari Park float.
Inside the Pasadena warehouse, volunteers from all over the country were decorating floats for the Rose Parade and in one special corner San Diego was shining. "Jeff would you like to come and help me?" asked Sue Heim. She was one of dozens of San Diego volunteers bringing the Safari Park float to life. "I am going to be watching the Rose Parade and I'm going to be going I did that I did part of that," said Sue.
What started off as a concept last April, went to 3D modelers, carpenters and welders and now must be covered with millions of flowers, seeds, beans and spices. "It kind of smells like spice," said float designer John Ramirez.
He recently took a truck tour at the San Diego Safari Park and showed us his vision. "I want everyone to see the animals we saw right? I mean this is the whole experience without the smell," he laughed.
If anyone would know, it would be volunteer Dylan Howard who is in charge of pasting lettuce seeds to the rump of a rhino. "That's it. Pretty crazy. I've never been this close to a rhino's behind before," said Dylan.
When we say behind the scenes, we mean it. "We are walking up to the front here and again our theme is celebrating 50 years of conservation," said Marco Wendt.
He is an ambassador from the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance. Marco showed us how Livia and Neville, a mama and baby rhino will ride on the front of the float along with their star giraffe standing tall on the rear.
"What an incredible, inspirational story," said Marco. Msituni was a baby giraffe born with four hyperextended limbs. "This was a condition in the wild she would not have survived but with the expert care that we offer at the Safari Park, she needed months of attention around the clock care," said Marco.
Msituni was not only fitted with braces, but lifted onto her feet, so she could take her very first steps and now. "You can see Msituni running across our East African habitat with wildebeest and antelope."
The Safari Park opened in 1972 and since the beginning, saving species has been a key part of the Safari Park's mission. The Safari Park has played a huge role in the conservation of species ranging from condors and hornbills to rhinos and elephants. "This is what we want people reminded of when they see our float the story of Neville the baby rhino and Msituni, that maybe they can turn the corner in their own lives and maybe do something in their own back yard to help the conservation process globally as well," said Marco.
We went to Pasadena to show you how anyone can chip in. "The Zevely Zone is on location," said volunteers Paul and Gary Ham. "You want to try a little bit?" The couple showed me how to paint poppy seeds on to lug nuts. "I'll never forget this, thanks for letting me do this," I said. Volunteering is an expedition open to all. "You sign up, you volunteer, you get your hands dirty, and it looks great in the end you know what I mean?" said Dylan.
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.
When wildlife wins, we all come out smelling like roses.
The Rose Parade takes place on Monday, January 2, at 8 am. Former congresswoman and gun violence prevention advocate Gabby Giffords will serve as the Grand Marshal.
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