Elephant calf trifecta for Melbourne Zoo
Melbourne Zoo is celebrating the safe arrival of three Asian elephant calves in as many months, making now the best time to plan a visit.
The newest calf – a female named Kati – was born at 11.25pm on January 1 to mum, Num Oi. She joins siblings Aiyara (female) and Roi-Yim (male), who were born in November and share the same father.
Melbourne Zoo trail of the elephants life sciences manager Erin Gardiner said mum and bub were progressing well.
“We are over the moon to have another healthy female calf join the herd,” Ms Gardiner said. “Num Oi is an experienced mother and is being well supported by the other female Asian elephants in the herd, who are all keeping a watchful eye on young Kati.”
All the three calves born at Melbourne Zoo since November were conceived naturally to sire Luk Chai, who arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020.
“We began planning these births years ago, so to see natural biology play out at its best has been a real privilege,” Ms Gardiner said.
All calves are being raised by the entire herd, naturally creating herd cohesion and providing social development.
“Young elephants learn their behaviours in a social context by observing the other herd members,” Ms Gardiner said.
“We are already seeing the three calves mimic their mothers’ and aunties’ behaviours by manipulating their trunks and attempting to pick up leaves and branches throughout their habitat.”
“Just like human siblings, the young calves are also learning from one another through play, which is critical for building their confidence and negotiation skills.”
Zoos Victoria is part of a regional breeding program for Asian elephants, which are classified as endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. We’ve also maintained an international partnership with Fauna and Flora International, which is undertaking fieldwork in Vietnam to establish wild elephant numbers and better understand the threats Asian Elephants face in the region.
As previously announced, the entire Asian elephant herd – including the calves – will move from Melbourne to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, following completion of an $88 million expansion funded by the Victorian Government. •