Wednesday 2 November will go down as a day I will never forget!
Thong Dee had shown signs of early labour overnight and we knew via monitoring of her bloods that the birth was getting closer. We conducted an ultrasound on her in the morning and saw the calf’s front feet in the birth canal and that thong Dee was fully dilated, so we knew the early stages of labour were underway and the birth could happen within the next 48 hours.
We continued to monitor Thong Dee following the ultrasound. In the late afternoon I heard a low rumbling and went to have a closer look, to see Thong Dee with her tail in the air. She was posturing with her head down and back leg raised. I could see the amniotic sac starting to come out, so I knew it was happening right then and there.
Within three minutes the calf was born and on the ground. The overwhelming feeling of excitement and relief that everything went smoothly was just amazing and I was so proud of Thong Dee’s and aunty Porntip’s reactions as they checked on each other and the calf.
Our team of elephant keepers and vet were on hand in minutes and I couldn’t wait to share the news via the radio with the whole Zoo team that the calf had been born and everyone in the herd was fine. It all happened so quickly. Everyone was just so excited to hear the news and we had so many well wishes and congratulations from staff across the site, it was really uplifting.
It was just amazing to see how quickly the calf stood; he was very strong from birth and was on his feet within five minutes. While he was trying to stand Thong Dee and Porntip were vocalising to each other ‘popping their trunks’ and ‘chirping’ which are signs of excitement.
This is a highlight of my career; it’s definitely something I will remember forever. I am looking forward to watching the calf grow and develop over the coming months and years under the watchful eye of his mum and aunty.
By Elephant Keeper Bobby-Jo Clow
View he first moments captured by Elephant keeper Bobby-Jo just after the elephant calf was born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Dubbo below: