Elephants have the longest gestation period of any land animal at 22 months. And with just over two months left until her due date in July 2018, Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s pregnant Asian Elephant cow, Porntip, is on the home run.
Keepers and Veterinary staff at the Zoo are pleased with Porntip’s health and overall condition. Porntip’s typically tall, lean frame sports a rotund stomach that is a clear giveaway she is a mother-to-be. Her unborn calf will be the second Asian Elephant to be born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, following the arrival of male Asian Elephant calf Sabai on 2 November 2016.
Porntip is Sabai’s aunty, and takes it upon herself to care for him whenever the need arises; almost like a second mother. Sabai’s mother Thong Dee shares a strong connection with Porntip, and together they excel at mothering duties. Keepers are confident their special relationship will grow stronger with the arrival of Porntip’s calf in July.
Sabai will also learn how to be a great role model to the young calf. Still a calf himself, Sabai will be an important contributor to the new calf’s development. Once old enough, Porntip’s unborn calf will be able to enjoy interacting and playing with cousin Sabai.
Weighing 3,166 kilograms as of mid-April 2018, Porntip is at a standard weight for an Asian Elephant cow at her stage of pregnancy. She enjoys an impressive 25-30 kilograms of food daily, including hay, browse (leaves), Elephant grass and other tasty treats.
Veterinary staff are checking Porntip regularly, with health checks including blood tests and other assessments to make sure her wellbeing is on track. As Porntip nears her due date, night watches will become more regular, with Keepers constantly reviewing camera vision from the Elephant enclosures.
Porntip fell pregnant via artificial insemination to Putra Mas, an Asian Elephant bull in the care of Perth Zoo. The July birth will be her second, following the arrival of her male calf, Pathi Harn, in March 2010. Porntip showed her abilities as an excellent mother first time around, and Pathi Harn continues to enjoy life at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, having grown into an impressive young bull himself.
While another significant milestone is on the horizon for Porntip, she still enjoys normal routines including morning baths and sand-yard routines with Keepers, which help her to stay fit and healthy. Her laidback, easy-going personality continues to shine through. Porntip will enjoy extra special care and attention from Keepers and Veterinary staff to ensure she is in her best shape ahead of the July delivery.
Having two Asian Elephant calves at once will be an exciting time for the Asian Elephant breeding program at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, and a promising outlook for the future of this species in our care.