In wholesome news, three endangered Asian Elephants at Melbourne Zoo are now pregnant. In a first for the zoo, all three calves were conceived naturally, and are expected to be born late next year. An elephant pregnancy lasts 22 months and the gender of the calves will not be known until they are born.
Pregnant elephants at Melbourne Zoo
Asian Elephants are classified as endangered in the wild, and Melbourne Zoo is part of a regional breeding program for these elephants. Mali, who was born at Melbourne Zoo 11 years ago, is pregnant for the first time. Her own mum Dokkoon, aged 28, and Num-Oi, aged 20, are also pregnant. Both Dokkoon and Num-Oi have previously conceived through artificial insemination.
Meanwhile, the father of all three calves, Luk Chai, was the first elephant born at Taronga Zoo 12 years ago. He arrived at Melbourne in December 2020.
The calves will be born at Melbourne Zoo. After that, the whole herd will move to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, thanks to an $84 million expansion from the current State Government.
“Having three elephant calves growing up together is ideal for their social development, as a closely bonded herd is so important for elephants’ welfare,” said Erin Gardiner, Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Science Manager. “This will further strengthen the already wonderful bonds within our elephant herd.”
Elephant keepers are currently preparing for the arrival of the little ones. They’re working with vets to monitor the health and nutrition of the pregnant elephants.
“It’s going to be a busy time for Melbourne Zoo’s elephant keepers and veterinary team as they care for three pregnant elephants,” said Minister Lily D’Ambrosio. “It will be so exciting for all Victorians to watch this Asian Elephant herd raise three precious babies together at the Werribee Open Range Zoo’s new state-of-the-art home in 2024.”
Visit the elephant mothers at Melbourne Zoo now. You’ll need to book a ticket in advance, and be fully vaccinated if you’re over 16.
Meanwhile, kids under 16 can visit the zoo for free on weekends, public holidays and school holidays. You must also book these free tickets in advance.