2 August 2011

Melbourne Zoo is set to hear the patter of giant feet with the announcement of Asian Elephant Num-Oi's pregnancy today.

Num-Oi's pregnancy to Bong Su, via artificial insemination, was confirmed by blood tests which monitor hormone levels.

The Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Ryan Smith, said that as one of the State's oldest and best-loved cultural institutions, Num-Oi's pregnancy was joyful news for Melbourne Zoo and for the State more broadly.

"Melbourne Zoo's Asian Elephant family is deeply loved and admired by Victorian's of all ages," Mr Smith said.

"Watching Dokkoon's and Kulab's pregnancies and now seeing their babies Mali and Ongard start to grow up is something that is very special to many Victorians."

If all goes according to plan during the 22-month pregnancy, Num-Oi is set to give birth any time between New Year's Eve 2012 and the end of January 2013.

This is the third pregnancy since Melbourne Zoo established the new Cooperative Conservation Breeding Program for this endangered species with the arrival of three young elephant cows from Thailand in November 2006.

The aim of the breeding program is to create an insurance population of this critically endangered species. Asian Elephant populations are under increasing threat as their rainforest habitat disappears.

Num-Oi is 10 years old, the youngest of the three females that came to Melbourne, and Keepers say that of the three she seems to show the strongest maternal instincts.

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