Posted on 14th June 2019 by Media Relations
Taronga Western Plains Zoo will celebrate Asian Elephant calf Kanlaya’s first birthday today with a special ceremony celebrating her Thai heritage.
The ceremony will commence with a traditional Thai blessing performed by a Buddhist Monk, which will includes water being sprinkled on both Kanlaya and her older cousin, male Sabai.
“This ceremony is a continued tradition with the Royal Thai Consulate to recognise and acknowledge the Thai heritage of the Asian Elephants at Taronga, usually conducted when a new addition is welcomed to the herd,” said Zoo Director, Steve Hinks.
“This is the first blessing to take place at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and a very special occasion for all of us being Kanlaya’s first birthday today.”
“We’re delighted that both Kanlaya and Sabai will receive this traditional blessing for good health and success, and grateful to the Royal Thai Consul-General Mr Chakkrid Krachaiwong and Monk Phra Prasert Eiamruekngam for travelling to Dubbo today to be part of this celebration.”
Over the past year Kanlaya has grown and developed under the watchful eye of her mother.
“Kanlaya has made great progress in her first year,” said Elephant Supervisor Glenn Sullivan. “She still nurses from Porntip but is now showing interest in solid foods, especially her favourite - apple pieces. She also enjoys sharing whatever Porntip is eating, such as hay or leaves from branches.”
“Both Kanlaya and Sabai, who will turn three in November this year, now play together regularly. They are very confident together, often playing away from their mothers, Porntip and Thong Dee.”
“We’ve seen them playing in the pool in the warmer months, dust bathing and sometimes napping together on their dirt mound.”
Watching both Kanlaya and Sabai grow in size but also in personality has been a special experience for Glenn and his team.
“We’ve had great success over the past few years with the expansion of the conservation breeding program to Dubbo,” said Glenn. “Witnessing the births of both calves and seeing them become part of the herd has been so rewarding for the dedicated and passionate team who care for them, not to mention the wider Zoo and Dubbo community who’ve been part of this journey.”
Taronga Western Plains Zoo is now home to eight Asian Elephants. Taronga is part of the Australasian Region Conservation Breeding Program for this endangered species and is committed to securing a future for this species. Taronga works in the field with governments and conservation agencies in Asia and also funds wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help suppress elephant poaching.