San Diego Zoo's "Roaring" Float Set to Bloom with Conservation Tales at 135th Rose Parade

San Diego Zoo's "Roaring" Float Set to Bloom with Conservation Tales at 135th Rose ParadeSource: Tournament of Roses
Roma Chang
Published on November 23, 2023

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance is gearing up to make a wild impression at the upcoming 135th Rose Parade, where they've pledged to not just march but also roar, as they champion conservation stories that'll tug at the heartstrings of spectators globally. In a flamboyant display dubbed "It Began with a Roar," their float plans to visually and audibly recreate the vibrant sounds of nature according to the details shared by the Alliance.

The float is a statement piece, primarily featuring Rex the lion, who more than a century ago, with a roar, ignited a dream that eventually blossomed into the world-class San Diego Zoo. This was revealed in a statement obtained by San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

The Rose Parade, synonymous with new beginnings and cultural reverence, will witness the Zoo Alliance float ring in 2024 with a symphony of wildlife sounds designed to connect animals, humans, and the fragile planet we cohabitate. Paul A. Baribault, president and CEO of San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, expounded on the historical significance, "For 107 years, we’ve experienced the spirit of Rex the Lion’s mighty roar, which sparked a dream to bring our world-renowned organization to life—right in the heart of San Diego." His statement went on to speak to the organization's evolution and the million guests a year who get to witness their grand efforts in wildlife conservation and education.

The organization, renowned for not just hosting a couple of million guests annually but also for rehabilitating and studying wildlife, is taking this year's parade as an opportunity to share heartfelt stories. One such narrative is that of 31-year-old Karen, a Sumatran orangutan with a heartwarming tale to tell, who after receiving life-saving open-heart surgery, will be featured inquisitively playing with a monarch butterfly on the float. This touching vignette, alongside other emblematic wildlife stories like Chinook the polar bear's plight in the face of climate change, are meant to drive home the urgency of preserving our natural world as reported by San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance.

This is not the Alliance's maiden voyage on the floral-lined streets of Pasadena; their float proudly snagged the Animation Award the previous year, thanks to its uncannily animated giraffes and rhinos. The current year's narrative is a botanical spectacle as well, intertwining tales of the Alliance's commitment to plant conservation. Matt Akel, associate curator of mammals, who started his career at the Zoo caring for Chinook as a wildlife care specialist, will be riding on the float, transporting us to his childhood dreams turned reality. "Every time I have the opportunity to interact with Chinook, it brings back special memories from my time with her at the start of my career, and why we work so hard to protect these incredible animals," he said via the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance news release.