Melbourne Zoo herd welcomes female elephant calf
Melbourne Zoo is celebrating the safe arrival of a healthy female elephant calf, the first of three expected by January 2023.
After spending a week behind-the-scenes to bond quietly with mother Dokkoon and the rest of the Asian elephant herd, visitors can now see the Zoo’s newest arrival for themselves.
Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Sciences Manager, Erin Gardiner, said the team was taking its cues from mum and bub.
“We are taking a very slow, hands-off approach for these first precious few weeks,” Ms Gardiner said.
“Dokkoon is a very experienced mother, so we have been watching her closely and letting her behaviour guide when and how we introduce her calf to the other members of the herd and our visitors.”
“There may be days when the calf needs quiet and may not be out in public view.”
“We know many people will be bursting with excitement to see her, but rest assured she will stay small for a long time and there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to meet her.”
Dokkoon gave birth to the calf at 1am on Wednesday, November 16 surrounded by other female members of Melbourne Zoo’s tightly bonded Asian Elephant herd.
The birth follows a 22-month pregnancy during which Zoo vets and keepers carefully monitored Dokkoon and the calf’s health.
The calf is the first to be born at Melbourne Zoo through natural conception, thanks to first-time father Luk Chai who arrived at Melbourne Zoo from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020.
Two more calves are due to be born at Melbourne Zoo by early next year, with Num Oi and Mali also pregnant.
The simultaneous pregnancies mean the calves will be raised by the entire herd, with huge benefits for herd cohesion, social development and the natural raising of young elephants.
Zoos Victoria’s 350,000 members have been given the opportunity to help name the new arrival.
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.
Zoos Victoria also maintains an international partnership with Fauna & Flora International, which is undertaking fieldwork in Vietnam to establish wild elephant numbers and to better understand the threats Asian Elephants face in the region.
The entire Asian Elephant herd, including the calves, will move from Melbourne Zoo to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, following completion of an $88 million expansion funded by the Victorian Government.
Zoo members and visitors can follow the calf’s progress via Zoos Victoria’s official social channels. •
Photos: Zoos Victoria.