In huge news for animal lovers everywhere, Melbourne Zoo welcomed a lovely and healthy elephant calf on New Year’s Day. This little girl is the third elephant calf in as many months. She was born on 11:25pm on January 1 to mum Num Oi. She shares the same father as Aiyara (female) and Roi-Yim (male), who were born in November last year. All three calves were conceived naturally by sire Luk Chai, who arrived from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020. The newborn will be named in the next few weeks, through an online competition on Zoos Victoria’s social media channels.
Elephant calf at Melbourne Zoo
According to Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Sciences Manager Erin Gardiner, both Num Oi and the elephant calf are doing well. “Num Oi is an experienced mother and is being well supported by the other female Asian elephants in the herd, who are all keeping a watchful eye on the young one,” said Gardiner. “Her calf is staying close by and is suckling well, which is exactly what we hope to see in these early days.”
The three calves will be raised by the entire herd, with huge benefits for herd cohesion, social development and the natural raising of young elephants. They will spend a short time behind the scenes, giving the herd time to adjust. After that, they will be able to be viewed by visitors.
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 progress of the baby elephants, and provide updates on when they will all be visible to the public.
“The three calves will stay quite small for a while, so there’s plenty of time to see them as they develop,” said Gardiner.
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.