Posted on 11th June 2019 by Media Relations
On the 14 June 2018, Australia’s eleventh Asian Elephant calf was born. A female calf weighing in at 120kg, she was the second calf born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo to the Asian Elephant Conservation Breeding Program. The calf was named ‘Kanlaya’, which in Thai means beautiful lady. Kanlaya was and continues to be a strong, confident young calf who, in the weeks following her birth, would often be seen leading the rest of the herd out onto the paddock after the morning barn routine.
One year on and Kanlaya has continued to go from strength to strength with an estimated weight of 500kg. She spends her days out on exhibit playing with Sabai our older male calf, who will turn three in November this year, or sharing whatever her mother Porntip is eating. The interaction between Kanlaya and Sabai is very enriching for both of them and is important for their development. Kanlaya has also had other social opportunities throughout her first year, getting to spend time with young bulls, Gung, Luk Chai and Pathi Harn on different occasions. These are important social opportunities for all of the elephants, although Kanlaya sticks very close to mum on these days and is a little wary of the bigger more boisterous boys.
Bath routines are a great tool for keepers to build relationships with the elephants in our care, and to assess their overall health and wellbeing. Kanlaya’s training is progressing well, she is already displaying some of the behaviours that make up the bath routine that our other elephants take part in every day. This is achieved through using positive reinforcement methods that reward Kanlaya for her cooperation, usually with a piece of apple or banana. Aside from the treats, she really thrives on the attention she gets during these training sessions. It is important that our elephants really want to and also enjoy the interactions they have with keepers, as their cooperation is essential to providing them with the best possible husbandry and care. We are well on our way to building our relationships with Kanlaya to achieve this high quality of care.
As we approach the milestone of her one year, Kanlaya continues to be as strong and confident as ever, and as her namesake suggests, she definitely brings us all a lot of happiness.
By Elephant keeper, Joel Kerr