It is hard to believe that already two years has passed since Australia’s first elephant calf was born. Today, the 4th of July is Luk Chai’s 2nd birthday!!
When Luk Chai was born he weighed only 96kg, today on his 2nd birthday he tips the scales at 829 kg. When Luk Chai is a fully grown bull, he will reach around 5000kg!
His birth was a significant event and it was amazing to watch how quickly he slotted into Taronga Zoo’s elephant herd. None of the herd had previously raised calves before but it was heart-warming how the females all took to the newborn to ensure he was protected and safe. Tang Mo, the youngest of all the adults took on the role of “aunty” for Luk Chai and it was a familiar sight to see him huddled beneath Tang Mo’s belly & between her legs. Tang Mo was a natural in looking after the newborn, helping Thong Dee as well as being a mentor to the young Luk Chai.
Luk Chai is developing into a wonderfully natured young elephant. He is laid-backed, easy-going, cheeky, playful and a fast learner. He is a keen and competent swimmer. He often disappears into the deep water of the top pool for long periods, surfacing with a triumphant prize from the deep such as a piece of chewed Cocos log or pineapple plant stump that has fallen in and sunk to the bottom.
Pathi Harn and more recently Tukta love running into the pool with him and wrestling with Luk Chai before he heads out on his underwater missions leaving the younger calves in the shallows.
Luk Chai also enjoys his visits to our bull facility to visit his father – Gung. Thong Dee, Luk Chai and Tang Mo make regular visits to see Gung and while Luk Chai seems to idolise his dad, Gung is happy to have him around only as long as he doesn’t get in the way of his breeding efforts. The elephant keepers who knew Gung as a youngster refer to Luk Chai as “mini” Gung as they have very very similar personalities and features.
If you come to visit the elephants and want to identify Luk Chai, he is the largest of the three calves and more than likely he’ll be the one on the bottom of a pile of young elephants with Pathi Harn & Tukta climbing all over the top of him.
Elephant Keeper, Bradd