Posted on 03rd December 2020 by Media Relations
Much loved Taronga Western Plains Zoo resident, Asian Elephant Luk Chai, departed Dubbo on 2 December 2020 and travelled overnight to Melbourne Zoo, Victoria, to join a group of unrelated females and have the opportunity to contribute to the regional breeding program as a breeding bull.
“Like all males in a very large number of wildlife species around the world, nature drives them to leave their home and herd to become a dominant breeding member for their species. Luk Chai is taking that step,” said Elephant keeper, Bradd Johnston.
Animal movements between Zoos are well planned and coordinated to ensure the transportation is smooth. In the lead up to his move, Luk Chai had undertaken regular crate training sessions to ensure he was comfortable and familiar with the crate he would be travelling in for the 10-hour road trip from Dubbo to Melbourne.
Luk Chai was accompanied on this journey by two Elephant Keepers, a Senior Vet and Vet Nurse. The team conducted regular stops along the way to ensure Luk Chai was travelling well and to provide food for him.
“Luk Chai is an easy going and very social elephant who has been a fabulous play mate and herd member to every elephant in Taronga’s Asian Elephant program,” said Bradd.
“He has spent the past decade learning the skills required to fulfil the breeding bull role from his father Gung, who is at present the only natural breeding bull in Australia at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.”
“At his new home Luk Chai will join a group of unrelated females that will provide him with the opportunity to put the important skills he has learned so far into practice as he matures.”
It is hoped that Luk Chai will succeed in his new role of siring the next generation of calves, creating a new genetic bloodline and in doing so bring the elephant programs at both Zoos closer together.
Luk Chai holds a special place in Taronga’s history, being the first Asian Elephant calf born to the regional conservation breeding program in Australia at Taronga Zoo Sydney. He has been a resident at Taronga Zoo, Sydney and Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo and helped raise awareness for the plight of Asian Elephants in the wild.
“Like any farewell we are sad to see Luk Chai leave Dubbo. A couple of the keepers including myself have been with him since he was born and watched him grow, but we look forward to watching him from afar fulfil his role as a breeding bull, ensuring a successful future for Asian Elephants in Australia,” said Bradd.
Taronga Western Plains Zoo continues to play a role in the regional conservation breeding program for Asian Elephants with breeding bull Gung. The Zoo is home to seven Asian Elephants that vary in age from two years old to over 60 years old.