Spring has sprung at the Elephant department with all three female Elephants making the most of the longer days.
Tukta, the youngest member of the herd, has been spotted by her Keepers playing in dirt mounds in the early mornings while chirping with excitement. Tukta was the last calf born at Taronga Zoo almost 6 years ago, but that will soon change as her mother, Pak Boon is expecting her second calf in May 2017. Despite her youthful exuberance, Tukta has definitely matured in recent months and her Keepers are confident that she will fulfil her role as big sister when the time comes.
Elephant births are a source of great excitement for the herd as well as for the Elephant Keepers as the cows are pregnant for 22 months therefore there is often a gap of 5 years between calves. This slow reproductive rate is one of the reasons why elephant populations take so long to recover from the effects of habitat destruction and poaching in the wild.
There are currently estimated to be fewer than 34,000 Asian Elephants remaining in the wild and their numbers are still decreasing at such a rate that they are classified as an endangered species.
This gloomy forecast makes Taronga Zoo’s breeding efforts that much more important as there will soon be one more four-legged ambassador to raise awareness for the plight of Asian Elephants in the wild.
By Keeper, Johny Wade