Name: Thong Dee - 'Golden'
Location: Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo
Thong Dee is easy to distinguish due to her short stature and the notch at the top of her right ear. She also has small tusks (called ‘tushes’ in Asian female Elephants).
Prior to arriving in Australia Thong Dee was a street elephant in Bangkok. Street elephants are used by their owners to beg for money from tourists who pay to have photos taken with them. City streets are hazardous places for elephants and many are hit by vehicles and suffer from polluted food sources. Luckily for Thong Dee her owners decided on a different future for her and put her into the care of Taronga Zoo rather than continue her life on the streets.
Thong Dee is a very independent, laidback and happy elephant who is incredibly food-motivated and spends hours each day searching all around the elephant paddocks looking for hidden treats or food such as hay or browse that the other elephants have left behind.
Thong Dee was the first elephant to give birth in Australia, on the 4th of July 2009 (Luk Chai). She has proven to be an excellent mother and in April 2015 relocated along with her calf Luk Chai to the new custom-built elephant facility at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo, as part of the expansion of the regional breeding program for Asian Elephants.