Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, Frank Sartor and Parliamentary Secretary Assisting the Minister, Angela D’Amore today welcomed the first birthday of Australia’s first elephant calf, ‘Luk Chai’.
Ms D’Amore today attended a special celebration hosted by Taronga Zoo to mark the occasion.

“Luk Chai made history last year as the first elephant to be born in Australia, just three years after Taronga started its conservation breeding program for this endangered species,” Ms D’Amore said.

“Keepers are encouraging birthday well-wishers to donate a gold coin to the conservation boxes wrapped in birthday paper located around Taronga’s elephant exhibit.

“The birthday funds will go towards helping a number a struggling species in the wild, and will contribute to an education program in Sri Lanka to minimise human and elephant conflict.

“Joining in the celebrations at our famous Sydney Zoo is just another way the people of NSW can show their support for the world’s wildlife.”

Luk Chai, a male, will receive birthday boxes with food treats hidden inside.

He will need to use his trunk to investigate along with some help from Taronga’s newest calf, the miraculous, ‘Pathi Harn’, which is almost four months old.

Mr Sartor said Luk Chai and Pathi Harn’s births were planned as part of the Conservation Breeding Program for the species.

“With as few as 34,000 elephants remaining in the wild, zoo breeding programs are vital to help safeguard against extinction,” Mr Sartor said.

“In the last 12 months Australia has welcomed three calves, two males at Taronga and a female, ‘Mali’, at Melbourne Zoo.

“Another Asian Elephant calf is due at Taronga in November.”

Director and CEO of Taronga Zoo, Cameron Kerr acknowledged the ongoing support offered by the ANZ Bank and the Thai Government.

He also encouraged visitors to enjoy the educational aspects of the zoo during the school holidays.

“Birthday well-wishers can continue the celebrations by following the Conservation Trail at the zoo.

“This will take visitors on an informative wildlife journey past eight of the world’s most endangered species including the colourful Corroboree Frogs, Sumatran Tigers and the Tasmanian Devils.”

The Tasmanian Devils are now residing at a new breeding facility which allows visitors to see the adult devils and joeys inside the dens through special viewing windows.

Key Facts:
• Luk Chai is the first elephant calf born in Australia.
• His birth and that of Taronga’s second calf, Pathi Harn, is a great success for the region’s conservation breeding program for Asian elephants.
• Community support for the elephant program has enabled the zoo to expand its conservation programs, including one supporting an orphaned elephant called ‘Moreesha’ in Sri Lanka.
• Zoo education programs are encouraging the community to support efforts to save the species with conservation messages reaching 1.5 million people annually at NSW’s two zoos.