July 4 2015 marks a very special day for Asian Elephant Luk Chai, the first elephant to be born in Australia, as it’s his 6th birthday!
Luk Chai was born at Taronga Zoo in Sydney to first-time mother Thong Dee and father Gung.
To mark Luk Chai’s 6th birthday, Keepers made him a special hanging ice block ‘cake’ made from wheat germ, molasses and fruit. Luk Chai and Pathi Harn enjoyed the frozen treat, taking turns to chip pieces off and finally breaking it apart like a big piñata!
Luk Chai and Thong Dee were transported to Taronga Western Plains Zoo on Friday 1 May, two weeks after herd-mates Porntip and her calf Pathi Harn arrived on Friday 24 April.
The elephants were moved to Dubbo to expand the regional breeding program for this endangered species, with Taronga Zoo to continue its conservation breeding program and Taronga Western Plains Zoo to play an integral role in the program in the future.
Keepers are pleased with the elephants’ transition to Taronga Western Plains Zoo. “It didn’t take long for the two males to settle in to their new home,” said Elephant Keeper Glenn Sullivan. “They spend all day together in their paddock, wrestling and rumbling with each other.”
Although the two young male calves are together during the day they are not completely separated from their mothers just yet, with keepers reuniting them with their mothers each night. In the coming months these nights together will gradually be reduced and the two male elephants will form a bachelor group as they would in the wild, with the females resuming their matriarchal bonds.
The four new elephants have had help settling in to their new homes, with long-term Keepers relocating from Taronga Zoo in Sydney to Dubbo.
Keeper Glenn said: “All four elephants have been working really well. They use all features of the facility, they have daily baths and they are relaxed when we do their footwork as part of our overall care routine.”