Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Luk Chai discovered a new toy today – a large soccer ball which the girls in the herd like to play with. He head-butted it around the yard and eventually worked out how to kick it with his foot.Luk Chai kicked the ball so hard it went flying down to their lower paddock. He stood there for a few minutes trying to work out where his ball went and I raced down to retrieve it for him. When I returned he’d already discovered a new game. The little rascal was chasing one the girls around the paddock in a game of tag.
The whole herd decided to play in the mud wallow this morning. This is the first time the Luk Chai has tried out the deeper wallow and found himself knee deep in the mud as a result.Pak Boon was particularly happy to wallow in the mud and Luk Chai seeing an opportunity to gain higher ground attempted to climb her. He wasn’t very successful as she’s one of the larger girls, but that didn’t stop him trying.
Our little Luk Chai received a traditional Thai blessing today from eight Monks followed by an ecumenical cermony to celebrate his birth. The herd enjoyed their morning feed in the paddock while watching the traditional blessing ceremony which involved chanting and prayers. Luk Chai seemed quite unaware of anything unusual. He was more interested in the bamboo shoots mum was eating and seeing what mum and the aunties where up to.At the end of the ceremony Luk Chai, Thong Dee and chief aunty, Tang Mo, followed us Keepers into the barn for the final part of the ceremony. The Monks sprinkled water on Luk Chai’s head to bless him and wish him good health and success. Luk Chai was very interested in the Monks, saying hello and checking them out with his trunk.The Monks offered Luk Chai some bananas, but of course he’s not quite ready to eat them yet. Tang Mo and Thong Dee were only too happy to look after them!
A very special event today - Thong Dee and Tang Mo's former owners flew in from Thailand to attend a blessing ceremony this weekend where Luk Chai will be blessed by Buddhist monks. Tang Mo and Thong Dee had not seen their former Thai mahout for three years. The mahout, Mau, had grown up with these elephants and spent two years working alongside the Taronga team in Thailand before the elephants were imported to Australia.The elephants were at first very surprised to see him, and then affectionately surrounded him, smelling him and inspecting with their trunks. Mau spoke to them in Thai and they immediately responded, doing anything he asked. Clearly they're still very fluent in Thai!Mau said all the elephants looked incredibly healthy and he was happy for them. They introduced him to Luk Chai and Mau gave the calf a big hug, declaring him 'perfect'.
Today we gave our flock of Sulphur-Crested Cockatoos a phone book to play with. We hung it up on the side of their aviary and at first they weren’t too sure about it.
The calf has found a new game! We rolled an inflatable ball towards Luk Chai. After a few goes he got the hang of it and kicked the ball right back to us using his feet and trunk.Aunty Pak Boon was very interested in his new game. She kept an eye on us and wanted to have a go too, but she’s too big to play soccer with the calf just yet.
Now that Luk Chai and conquered climbing rocks, logs and a tyre, today he tried the biggest mountain of all. Mum and Tang Mo were lying on their dirt mound in the paddock and he thought it would be great fun to clamber over them.Tang Mo loved the attention. She helped him climb right over using her trunk and the calf came off her back like a slippery dip. Once he was back on the dirt mound he rushed back around to her belly to start all over again.
Luk Chai has been playing grown-ups again.During the play session, mum was tugging a huge log with her trunk and Luk Chai decided he’d have a go too.He’s been watching the other elephants push the logs around. Luk Chai tried to push the log with his trunk and feet, but of course it didn’t budge!
This was a very exciting week for us! Leslie, our beautiful Andean Condor, went for a huge fly above the bird show amphitheatre ‘wowing’ our visitors.
We weighed Luk Chai this afternoon and he’s now 132 kilos!

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Public Notices

Update on three year old White Rhino Macheo
As part of a 10 year Centenary Master Plan upgrade, Taronga has submitted plans to build an Australian Habitat Exhibit (phase 1) which includes an overnight conservation experience called the Taronga Wildlife Retreat.
Taronga Zoo would not dissect animals for public display. Taronga’s first concern is always for the welfare and dignity of the remarkable animals in our care.
Taronga Zoo’s young male elephant, Luk Chai, 5, had some dental work on his tusks today. Taronga’s Senior Veterinarian, Dr Larry Vogelnest, said some elephants including Luk Chai, have brittle tusks that are prone to cracking and infection.