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Taronga's new male elephant calf today took a short walk with its mother, Thong Dee, and aunt, Tang Mo, in the warm sun at the Zoo's Wild Asia Exhibit.

The Zoo's Director, Guy Cooper, said: "With introductions to the other female Asian Elephants in the herd going well, our Elephant Team was keen to give the calf's mother a chance to stretch her legs and give the young calf its first experience outside."

"Our Elephant Manager, Gary Miller, is very pleased with progress in introducing the other females, he decided to give Thong Dee the opportunity to talk the youngster for a walk in the quiet, sheltered lower paddock of the exhibit with Tang Mo, which was the first adult female introduced to the calf."

Taronga's New Elephant Calf Takes First Steps Outside Barn

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Taronga's new Elephant calf and his mother Thong Dee

"This will also continue the carefully managed exercise program for our elephants in the Australian Conservation Breeding Program which ensured Thong Dee was fit and ready for pregnancy and birth."

The introduction of the female elephant Tang Mo to the new mother and calf today went very well with Tang Mo showing great interest in the youngster, demonstrating classic ‘aunty' behaviour and helping the mother, Thong Dee, care for the calf.

Mr Cooper said the global knowledge bank on elephant breeding that was available to Taronga and the depth of experience of Taronga's keeping staff and veterinarians had contributed much to the successful birth and the introductions.

Thong Dee and her calf are unlikely to be visible in the exhibit for some days yet while the post-birth process of bonding with the other females continues and the calf gets stronger.

The young male calf's progress has already been very reassuring, getting quickly to its feet after birth and suckling within three hours, ensuring its access to the important first milk known as colostrum from its mother.

It will be some time before an exact weight of the calf can be determined, but calves typically weigh between 80 and 120 kg.

The Zoo will ask the community to choose a name for Australia's first-ever elephant calf through an online competition on the Zoo's website at www.taronga.org.au/littlethings.

Elephant Fact Sheet

The mother, Thong Dee (Golden) used to be a street elephant in Bangkok. When Taronga keepers first met her, she was very focused on food and did not socialise much with the rest of group. Now that she knows there will always be enough food, she's emerged as a calm, well- balanced elephant. Thong Dee has become the mother of first elephant calf born in Australasia, born on July 4, at about 3 am.

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