Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Taronga Zoo’s newborn male Asian Elephant calf has continued to make progress overnight, under the watchful eyes of dedicated Taronga Zoo staff.

The Zoo’s Senior Veterinarian, Larry Vogelnest, said: “The calf is slowly getting stronger and is now walking around independently and has suckled from his mother, Porntip.”

“He appears to have a lot more coordination, has great control of his trunk and is shuffling around much more confidently. The calf is also very alert, a good sign considering his eventful start to life.”

“He is still not completely out of the woods but these are all very good signs and things we wanted to see happen within the first 24 hours after his incredible birth,” said Dr. Vogelnest.

Taronga Zoo, Director, Cameron Kerr, said: “The last 24 hours have certainly been remarkable.”

“The mother’s name, ‘Porntip’ means ‘eternally blessed’ in Thai, and I can tell you, all the Zoo staff certainly feel blessed at the moment. There is definitely a feeling of magic and excitement in the air.”

The elephant team reported that overnight, Porntip proved to be a wonderful mother, helping to settle the newborn down for a night time sleep before lying down close beside him.

“Porntip is also receiving a lot of attention from Thong Dee, mother to Taronga’s other Asian Elephant calf, Luk Chai. Being the first two elephants to ever give birth at Taronga they now have a shared experience to draw upon, “Cameron said.

“Importantly, the infant is taking a lot of interest in the older elephants and Australia’s first elephant calf ‘Luk Chai’ which was born last July,” said Cameron.
“I am told the calf is very curious and has been reaching out to its herdmates who have spent the night in the stalls next door.”

“Our three other females and Luk Chai even abandoned their breakfast in the paddock this morning to be with him. This is simply unheard of but they just can’t tear themselves away from the new arrival.”

“This morning, our keepers introduced the calf to ‘aunty’ Pak Boon, his mother’s closest companion. She is normally a real tomboy but this morning showed us another side to her personality, as she slowly and gently caressed the calf.”

The calf and his mother, Porntip will be staying in the warm barn today and 24 hour monitoring and care will continue for some time to come.

Taronga’s Elephants are part of Australia’s first national Conservation Breeding Program for Asian Elephants, whose numbers in the wild may have slumped to as low as 34,000 across their home countries in Asia.