In huge news for Melbourne Zoo and animal lovers everywhere, a healthy elephant calf was born safely in the early hours of the morning. Surrounded by other female members of the tightly bonded Asian Elephant herd, mother Dokkoon gave birth at 1am. Her pregnancy lasted a whopping 22 months, under the careful watch of Zoo vets and keepers. The sex of the newborn is yet to be determined.
Elephant calf at Melbourne Zoo
This baby elephant is the first of three, with the other two due over the next few months. The newborn will be named in the next few weeks, through a competition for Zoos Victoria members.
“It is such a joy to welcome this beautiful elephant calf to our herd and to witness its first interactions with its mother and other members of the herd,” said Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Science Manager, Erin Gardiner.
This calf is the first to be born at Melbourne Zoo through natural conception. Its father, Luk Chai, arrived at the zoo from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020. This is Luk Chai’s first calf.
Two more elephant calves are due to be born by early next year, with Num Oi and Mali also pregnant. The calves will be raised by the entire herd, with huge benefits for herd cohesion, social development and the natural raising of young elephants.
Asian Elephants are classified as endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation by Nature’s Red List, so the simultaneous elephant pregnancies were, of course, huge news. Zoos Victoria is a part of a regional breeding program for Asian Elephants. It also has an international partnership with Fauna and Flora International, which is conducting field work in Vietnam to establish wild elephant numbers, and better understand the threats that elephants face in the region.
When can you see the calf?
Stay tuned to the official social media channels of Zoo’s Victoria, which will follow the baby elephant’s progress, and provide updates on when it will be visible to the public. Zoo Members will also receive an email to learn when the calf is on display.
“We are giving mother and calf all the quiet time and space they need to bond and develop their relationship with one another and the herd,” said Gardiner. “We look forward to introducing the calf to our community of elephant lovers in the coming days when mum and bub are ready.”
In 2024, the entire Asian Elephant herd will move from Melbourne Zoo to Werribee Open Range Zoo. This $88 million expansion, funded by the Victorian Government, will include a purpose-built elephant habitat and trail.