Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

I made this jungle animals birthday cake for a 1-year old boy’s birthday. The party theme was centred around jungle animals and the mother therefore requested me to design a cake for her boy to match the theme. She also had theme colors for the party, which were green and yellow, so I made sure to have those 2 colors as the main ones on the cake. And also, that the birthday boy is to be represented by a monkey!

Making this cake was really fun and a real challenge too. Fun because I had the liberty to design the cake instead of my customer dictating the design to me. I had this brave idea of making a 3D monkey swinging by its tail on a tree on top of the cake while blowing his birthday candle. And I wanted the monkey to be able to literally swing when rocked.


Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

And I call it a brave idea, because the whole idea of a swinging monkey was the main challenge on the cake. Making a 3D monkey and hanging it onto a tree branch, though may sound like a simple idea, was on the contrary, quite tricky. The tail had to be strong enough to hold the weight of the monkey and its hands and feet also had to be positioned such that all looked natural when assembled.

I must admit, I spent a considerable amount of time trying to get that little fella’s hands, feet and tail in place. The rest of this jungle animals birthday cake decoration was pretty straight forward. Everything on the cake was handmade with fondant including the tree, which had wires for support and the fondant animals had Styrofoam balls inside them as the base.


Jungle Animals Birthday Cake Decorating Guide

These were the main supplies I used to decorate this jungle animals birthday cake:

  • Cake – this was a 3 tier cake measuring 6 inches, 9 inches and 12 inches in diameter. And each tier was 4 inches high. I cannot recall the cake recipes I used for each of the tiers, but they were all from my cake recipes collection here.
  • Buttercream – Each tier of the cake was filled with buttercream. I also used buttercream to crumb coat each cake tier before covering them with fondant.
  • Fondant – I used Satin Ice fondant for the entire project. Some were ready to use colors namely pastel yellow, chocolate brown, yellow, orange, green, blue, white, pink, red and black. I also used food colors to tint white fondant into navy blue (using Americolor Navy Blue ), light green (using Americolor Avocado ).
  • Floral wire – These were used to make the 3D trees on the cake, the monkey’s hands, legs and tail as well as the string on the balloon held by the elephant. I used 18 gauge for the trunk (about 3 for the trunk and used thinner gauge wires for the tree branches. I joined these wires to the 18 gauge wires with brown floral tape). As for the monkey and the balloon, I used 224 gauge .
  • Brown Floral Tape – I used this to join the wires for the 3D trees on the cake as well as to group together the tree branches as they branch out from the tree trunk.
  • Styrofoam balls – these were tiny Styrofoam balls measuring about 3 cm in diameter and were used as the base for the fondant elephant and lion on the cake.
  • Extruder tool – my favourite tool and I used this for the cake border as well as the vines, and borders for the fondant plaques on the cake. I used 2 discs mostly and both were circle discs – I was medium sized circle and the other a small circle.
  • Plunger cutters in oval , round , 5 petal flowers , star and hearts – the oval cutters were mainly used for the leaves on the tree, round for the polka dots on the second tier, 5-petal flowers for the leaves base on the smaller tree, starts for the lion’s party hat and heart for the 2 Red hearts on one of plaques.
  • Plaque cutters – I used 2 different cutters, one for the birthday boy’s name and the other for the words, ‘Our Prince is 1’.
  • Pizza cutter – I used this throughout the decorating process for all the cutting work and also used it to cut out the grass border on the first and third tiers of the cake.
  • Needle Tool – This was also used throughout the decorating process but mostly to mark the tree trunk grains pattern on the 3D tree trunks.
  • Sugar Craft Knife – This handy tool was also used generally throughout the decorating process.
  • Green petal dust - I used this to give more depth to the tree trunks on the cake.
  • Fondant shaping tools – these were used throughout the cake decorating process to help in shaping the fondant deco that was placed on the cake as well as the fondant animals.
  • Shortening and fondant glue – I used these interchangeably, shortening for smaller lighter fondant pieces and fondant glue for heavier ones.

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake – 3D Fondant Animals 

I started by preparing the fondant animals first. All of them were formed by hand and I used one Styrofoam ball each as the base. There are 2 reasons for using the Styrofoam balls. Firstly, it saves on my fondant, and secondly, the fondant used to make the animals sets much faster and the finished fondant animals are much lighter. This was particularly important for the monkey topper as its entire weight was supported by its thin tail and therefore, having a lighter weight makes a lot of difference.

I had a total of 4 fondant animals on the cake – the monkey, giraffe, elephant and lion. I did not capture any step by step images of making these fondant animals, but I do have the close-up pictures.


Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - 3D Fondant Elephant

  • I started by mixing white and black fondant to create the grey fondant. And then, using one Styrofoam ball as the base, I formed the elephant’s body. Next was the head. To make the head, I started with a teardrop like shape, but the tip was not pointed. And then, I refined the tip to form the elephant trunk and the base of the tear drop as the face.  I used the end of my piping tip to imprint the elephant’s mouth and attached 2 small pink fondant balls on each corner. For the eyes, I formed 2 white ovals, added 2 smaller dots of black fondant and added thin eyelids made of grey fondant on each eye.

  • The ears were made of grey and pink fondant, and so were the hands and legs. Each of the legs were formed by hand. I started by pinching out 2 equal sized pieces of grey fondant, rolled each into equal sized sausages and then pressed one of each ends thin. I then used fondant glue to attach the flattened part of the legs to the elephant’s body. And for the paws, I cut out small circles of pink fondant and attached to the paws with shortening. The hands were formed in a similar manner too. And finally, I used my skewer to mark the elephant’s belly button! As for the balloon, it was also made of fondant but the string holding it was floral wire. I poked one end of the wire into the balloon (I made the balloon in advance and let it set before putting it on wire as I did not want to risk the wire poking through the wet fondant of the balloon) and the formed a loop on the other end. Once the elephant was set and firm, I carefully inserted the loop through the elephant trunk.

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - 3D Fondant Lion

  • This guy was pretty easy to make. I used orange and brown fondant mostly, with a little bit of white and black for the eyes. I also used my gerbera daisy cutter to make the mane. I started with the body. Similar to the elephant, I used a small Styrofoam ball as the base. And then I formed the head and attached the lion’s eyes, nose, mouth and eye brows and one ear (the other ear was not necessary as the party hat was supposed to cover it). Next were the hands and legs. Again, each one of these started off as sausage-shaped pieces. For the hands, I formed the paws on one end and flattened the other ends thin by pressing them with my fingers. For the paws, I used my sugar craft knife and cut 3 shallow lines to mark the lion’s paws. And the I attached the hands to the lion’s body. Next were the legs which were formed almost similar to the hands except that the opposite ends of the paws were not pressed thin. Instead, they were flattened and attached to the body with some fondant glue. And for the paws, I added small round brown fondant pieces.
  • For the mane, I used my smallest gerbera daisy cutter and cut out 3 pieces of brown fondant. 1 piece went in between the body and the face while the other 2 pieces went to the back of the lion’s head.  I attached all with fondant glue.
  • Next was the party hat. This was also formed by hand using blue fondant. I shaped it into a cone and topped it with a tiny yellow ball. And then I added yellow stars all around it that were cut using my star plunger cutter. And finally, I rolled a thin strip of green fondant and attached it around the base of the blue cone with glue. I let the lion set firmly before attaching the party hat to it.
  • And finally, I added the lion’s long tail.

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - 3D Fondant Giraffe

  • Next was the fondant Giraffe. I used 5 colors for the giraffe namely yellow, light brown, chocolate brown, black and white. The body was made using white fondant that was tinted with Wilton golden yellow. The brown dots on the giraffe were made using chocolate brown fondant that has been lightened slightly by adding some white fondant into it. The giraffe’s horns and its mane at the back of its neck were made using chocolate brown fondant.  The black was for the bow and eyes while the white also went of the eyes.
  • To make the fondant giraffe, I started off by rolling my fondant into a short fat sausage. And then I continued rolling one end to make it long and thin. This end was to form the neck and the other end was for the body.
  • Next was the head. I formed a round ball and then rolled it slightly to elongate it. And then I formed another small yellow fondant ball, pressed it flat with my fingers and attached to the front of the face as the mouth. I used my skewer to mark the nostrils and the back of my piping tip to mark the mouth. I formed the eyes with white fondant and added black eyeballs to it. The ears were cut using  my oval plunger cutter. I used my fingers to make one end of each cut out pointy and pinched the other end so that they get folded slightly. I attached these to the head with fondant glue. Next were the horns. I rolled 2 equal sized thin brown fondant pieces into thin sausages and attached them to the top of the giraffe’s head. To help the horns stay in place while the glue dries, I formed 2 small dents on the head with the end of my brush and attached the horns into these dents. That way, it was so much easier to keep them in place. Once they had become firm, I attached tiny brown fondant ball on each horn, also with fondant glue.
  • I left the head to set aside while I worked on the giraffe’s hands and legs. The steps I took to form these were similar to the elephant and lion above but this time, since the legs were hanging from the side of the cake, when making the giraffe, I placed it on a piece of round Styrofoam and let the legs hang on its side while waiting for the giraffe to set and for the rest of the cake decoration to be ready.
  • Once the hands and legs were in place, I cut out small circles (in 2 different sizes) in brown fondant and attached them randomly on the body. I also attached the brown circles for the hooves.

  • And then I added the head followed by the giraffe’s mane which was cut out using the scalloped blade of my pizza cutter. I attached the mane using fondant glue. And then I added a black bow around the neck where the head and the neck were joined.  The bow was just a thin strip of black fondant wrapped around the neck and another piece of the same sized black fondant that was formed into a bow.
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - 3D Fondant Monkey

  • This was the trickiest of all the 4 fondant animals on this cake and that was simply because this little guy was made hanging onto a 3D tree branch by his tail. The body had a Styrofoam ball as the base and the hands and legs were all wired. I formed them in fondant and slowly insert a thin wire through each arm and leg and then attached them to the body. The tail was also wired. And I shaped it into a hook so that it will be easy to hang him up on his tail on the tree branch as well as easily take him off the tree. This was because I needed to take him off the tree when transporting the cake so that all the shaking during the drive does not detach his tail off the body. The head was made entirely of fondant and so was the crown (made using white fondant and painted in gold). The eyes, mouth, nose and ears were all made of fondant too.
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - 3D Fondant Tree

  • I had 2 of these trees on the cake. The larger one on top of the cake as a topper and a slightly smaller one on the side of the 3rd cake tier. These trees were made using floral wire. If you see closer, you will notice that all the branches on each tree are wires.  I used thicker wire (18 gauge) for the trunk as I needed it to be strong and stable, but for the branches, I used thinner wires (gauge 24). To join these thinner wire to the trunk, I used brown floral tape. I also used the tape to tape the branches that were coming out of the tree truck together.

  • For the wood grain pattern on the trunks, I used my needle tool and drew the pattern by hand. And then I dusted it with dark green petal dust. As for the leaves, I cut out green pieces of round scalloped fondant pieces (using the smallest cutter in my scalloped cutter set. I used my 5-petal flower plunger cutter for the smaller tree) and glued 2 pieces of these cut outs together randomly on the wire branches (with the wire branches sandwiched in between). And then I used my oval plunger cutter to cut out leaves in a few different shades of green and attached the leaves randomly on the scalloped green cut outs. I also attached yellow flowers on the tree and these were cut using my small flower plunger cutter.  

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake - Assembling Guide

  • Once all the cakes were baked and have cooled down, I leveled, filled and crumb coated them with buttercream and then covered them with fondant. The first and third tiers were covered in green fondant (Americolor Avocado food color mixed with white fondant) while the second tier was covered in pastel yellow fondant. And then, I stacked them all up.
  • Next was the fun part i.e., the decoration. I started by putting up the birthday boy’s name and all other lettering on the cake. I used Clikstix alphabet cutters for the letters. For the plaques on the second tier, I used plaque cutters, while the wooden planks on the 3rd tier were strips of chocolate brown fondant cut by hand using my pizza cutter. Once the lettering was all done and attached to the cake, I completed the second tier decorations by adding a white fondant ribbon all around the tier. To frame the white fondant plaques and the fondant ribbon around the cake, I used my extruder tool to pipe thin rolls of brown fondant and attached is as the border with shortening. And then I finished off the second tier with green polka dots cut out using my circle plunger cutter and green border (piped using the extruder tool).
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

  • For the third tier, I started by attaching the tree on the side first.  I used fondant glue so that the tree would stick securely to the side of the cake as well as the cake board. And then I used my extruder tool to pipe the vines around the top edge of the cake. I piped these in brown and green. And then I added the leaves in random order in a combination of green tones and yellow. I did the same for the top tier. I also added the leaves on the cake board. 
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

  • And finally, I added the grass borders for both tiers. The grass was hand cut using my pizza cutter. I rolled and cut my green fondant into long strips and used the pizza cutter to form the grass.

  • Next was the tiny birthday cake on the top tier. This was made by hand. I started with light blue fondant shaped into a tiny cake and added the white icing on top that was made of white fondant.  And the candle on fire was also shaped by hand in fondant.

  • After the cake, I attached the larger tree on the first tier. Since the tree trunk consisted of a number of wires grouped together, it was convenient to use the extra wire at the base of the tree to hold the tree in place on the cake. I did not poke the entire group of wires into the cake. I only used 2 and cut off the rest. And the two that went into the cake were inserted into lollipop sticks first so that there was no direct contact of the wires with the cake.
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

  • And finally, I added the animals. And this was done at the party venue which means I transported the cake and the animals separately. Each animal was attached to the cake with fondant glue except for the monkey which was just hung on the tree branch by its tail.
Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

And that was how I made this jungle animals birthday cake.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask me in the section below, I will be happy to guide you further.


Happy Decorating :)


Jungle Animals Birthday Cake

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