Gung's relationship with the females has evolved over time, as he has transitioned from a youngster to an adolescent male motivated to breed regularly.
All the elephants are part of an Australasian conservation breeding program for their species and Gung has already proved his important role in this program by breeding naturally with two of our females – Thong Dee & Pak Boon.
In the wild, adolescent bulls are driven away & leave the female herd to take up a more solitary lifestyle, interacting only with the female herds to breed. In 2009, Gung had matured to a stage where he needed to make this same move. He was becoming increasingly frustrated by wanting to breed with the females, who rejected his constant advances.
Our zoo had planned for this situation and created a new home for Gung, which includes pools, play and exercise structures, a mud wallow and heated barn.
His days are interspersed with feeding, foraging, exercising, swimming and activities and interaction with the elephant keepers who he is bonded to.
The female elephants still visit Gung regularly which allows him to practice his breeding skills and as one of only three breeding males in all of Australia, Gung is an extremely important elephant and a central figure in the future breeding program.