Taronga’s newest elephant calf Jai Dee is growing in confidence as he takes charge of his surroundings, running between paddocks and enjoying the occasional swim, allowing the herd some much needed rest and the opportunity for Jai Dee to have a bit more freedom.
“Initially they all stayed very close to him. Now they’re happy to let him run freely,” said Keeper Gabe Virgona.
“Earlier this week while it was raining, he was by the waterfall for ages swimming away and loving it” said Keeper Gabe.
The bath sessions have also been a great opportunity for visitors to catch him splashing around in a paddling pool made by Keepers from a disused rainwater tank.
Sister Tukta was particularly protective to begin with, but after adjusting to her role in caring for him, she has adopted a more playful relationship with her baby brother.
“Both enjoy rolling around in the mud. It has made her more of a kid again,” Keeper Gabe said.
Following an initial teething period, the herd has now adjusted to life with Jai Dee and communicate their affection using chirps and trumpeting most notably at night time when they all cuddle together to go to sleep.
All the care and affection Jai Dee has received has enabled him to flourish, already reaching 225kg, gaining 10kg a week since starting to try solid foods including hay, sweet potato, corn and apples.
While still growing and learning how to use his trunk, which contains a staggering 40,000 muscles, used to feed, drink and trumpet, there’s always time for play.
“He’s just a playful calf. He’s at that age where he’s very much into his play and exploring. And of course rolling in mud,” said Keeper Gabe.