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16 July 2007


Photo: Clare Chenoweth

Taronga's wildlife received a special visit on July 9 from five monks from the Sakya Tharpa Ling Tibetan Buddhist Institute and Meditation Centre.

Led by the 13 year-old Gyalsay Rinpoche, the monks were visiting the Zoo's Snow Leopards and Asian Elephants which they had previously blessed.

The blessing for the Snow Leopards' fertility was followed by the birth of twin cubs in 2005.

The young Gyalsay Rinpoche's face lit up as he watched the elephants roll over onto their sides to be washed and scrubbed with warm water by their keepers.

He is believed to be the current incarnation of the original monk who gave the blessing at Taronga zoo and is currently in Australia with his tutor Lama Karma Dorjee for a few weeks.

The 14th Dungyud Tulku Rinpoche and Lama Ngawang Tenzin were especially delighted as they observed the playful six year old Asian elephant,  Gung,  cavorting and trumpeting his way around the exhibit after his bath.

The two monks had previously blessed the elephants and were pleased to see them being so well cared for and obviously enjoying their new exhibit.   

Khenpo Ngawang Damchoe, the monk who blessed the Snow Leopards before they became pregnant and had twin cubs, shared an intimate reunion with the now grown-up cubs when he was specially introduced to them by their keepers.

He affectionately calls them his ‘children' and was keen to see how they were progressing.

The group was then given a comprehensive tour of the Zoo by Zoo Friends Volunteer Guides to meet Australian animals including koalas, emus, Little Penguins, kangaroos and a very sleepy Tasmanian Devil curled up under its heat lamp. Despite the chilly weather, many of the animals were active and feeding. One particularly sprightly koala treated the monks to a rare display of activity as he scampered across the ground and shot up a tree in his exhibit.

For more information contact Media Relations:

Ph: +61 2 9978 4606
Fax: +61 2 9978 4511
Email: tzpr@zoo.nsw.gov.au

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