Heart of Taronga's Elephant herd turns one

Heart of Taronga's Elephant herd turns one

#Animals, #Taronga Zoo Sydney

Posted on 01st June 2018 by Media Relations

Taronga Zoo Sydney today celebrated the birth of Asian Elephant calf Jai Dee one year ago this week with a special feed arranged by keepers in the shape of the number one. Jai Dee’s name, which means ‘good heart’ in Thai, was chosen by late philanthropist Janis Salisbury.

In that time, the calf which is the fourth born at Taronga has grown from 130kgs to now 580kgs and has reached most growth milestones. These include: his milk tusks, which have been replaced by permanent tusks; and in addition to mother Pak Boon’s milk, he now eats hay and browse.

Senior Elephant Keeper Lucy Melo said that his most impressive development has been his intelligence.

“When elephant calves are born, there’s not much control of the trunk so it just flops about. Jai Dee now has full control of the 40,000 muscles in his trunk, and uses it to eat, dust bathe and snorkel as he swims in shallow water,” said Keeper Lucy.

“Jai Dee is becoming a more confident swimmer, so his mother Pak Boon, sister Tukta and aunt Tang Mo are becoming more relaxed about letting him in the water,” Keeper Lucy said.

“With that freedom, he is eager to explore his surroundings independently of the female herd, and he loves to carefully climb the rocks and logs in the paddocks,” she said.

“He is an incredibly fast learner who doesn’t make mistakes in his behaviour and training, so given his intelligence we know to start planning for more complex stimulation as he grows into a young bull,” she said.

“The only milestone for a calf of his age, which he has hasn’t yet reached, is his first trumpet. Jai Dee has made other vocalisations but he is yet to successfully trumpet, so we are excited for when he masters that natural skill,” she said.

In the wild, Asian Elephants live across Southeast Asia, and are far more endangered than African Elephants. Estimates suggest as few as 35,000 Asian Elephants remain in the wild due to poaching and habitat loss. To help prevent extinction and preserve genetic diversity, the Australasian conservation breeding program has 10 calves born; five at Taronga Zoo Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo. Porntip at Taronga Western Plains Zoo Dubbo is due to birth to a calf in July 2018.