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Taronga’s newborn female Asian Elephant calf was officially named ‘Tukta’ today, a Thai name meaning ‘doll’.

Pronounced ‘took-tuh’, the name was chosen by the Zoo’s Elephant Keepers and formally announced to the public by Taronga Zoo’s Life Sciences Manager, Simon Duffy.

“For the last few days our elephant team have been debating over a name. We wanted a name that was of Thai origin to reflect the heritage of our elephants and help educate our visitors about the home range of this magnificent species,” said Simon.

Taronga's Female Elephant Calf
Taronga's female elephant calf explores the paddock while mum enjoys a pineapple top.
“On a more practical level the keepers were searching for a name that didn’t sound similar to any of the other elephants so we didn’t cause confusion amongst the herd.”

“Like our other two calves the keepers also wanted to choose a name that reflected something unique about this new arrival or her personality or unique characteristics.”

“We all know how hard it is for parents to agree on the name of a newborn child, so as you can imagine when 10 elephant keepers are trying to choose a name it’s no easy task, however they have done a great job,” said Simon.

“I may be a little biased but she’s an absolutely beautiful elephant and a doll-like version of her mother. Unlike the male calves she is lighter with a pink coloration to her skin and you only have to stand in front of the elephant exhibit for a few moments to hear our visitors proclaiming how lovely she is.”

Taronga’s other elephant calves also have Thai names. Australia’s first elephant calf, ‘Luk Chai’s’ name means ‘son’ in Thai whilst Pathi Harn who was born in March this year after a difficult birth means ‘miracle’.

Tukta’s birth at 1:12am on 2 November came exactly four years to the day that her mother ‘Pak Boon’ and herd-mates arrived from Thailand to start the first Australian Conservation Breeding Program for Asian Elephants.

“In just four short years, together with Melbourne Zoo, we have welcomed five elephant calves into the world. We’ve increased our regional herd by 50% which is a remarkable achievement and reflective of the dedication and expertise of our keepers and veterinary staff,” said Simon.

“Importantly, the community has embraced the Australian herd. Taronga is the only place in the country where people will be able to see three elephant calves living together and learning from each other, just as they would in the wild.”

“It is a very heart warming sight to watch the youngsters explore and get to know one another, gently touching trunks and ambling throughout the exhibit all under the watchful eyes of their protective mothers and aunties,” said Simon.

Tukta can be seen exploring the paddock with the older calves, ‘Luk Chai’ and ‘Pathi Harn’ along with her mother, Pak Boon and the rest of Taronga’s herd every day until about 3:30pm. An Elephant Keeper Talk is hosted daily at 1:00pm.

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