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30 October 2013

Asian Elephant Dokkoon became an important part of Melbourne Zoo’s 151-year history on January 16, 2010.

That was the day when she gave birth to Mali, the Zoo’s first-ever elephant calf and Australia’s first-ever female baby elephant.

Now Dokkoon is due to make history again, as the first Asian Elephant in Australia to become pregnant for a second time.

Dokkoon is due to give birth soon to a baby sister or brother for Mali, who will turn four in January.

Zoo Veterinarian Dr. Michael Lynch says that ‘Asian Elephants have a 640 to 660-day gestation, which determines when they are most likely to deliver.

‘November 1st is the beginning of that period for Dokkoon, so now we are keeping her under an increased level of monitoring.

‘As of Sunday, we have moved from testing her blood twice each week to a daily test schedule, as we are aiming to predict the likely window of birth.’

Dr. Lynch explains that Dokkoon’s blood is being tested for the level of the hormone progesterone, which is an indicator that she is getting ready to deliver.

‘When the progesterone level drops suddenly to a zero level, birth is likely to be imminent.

Elephant Keepers will begin staying overnight as soon as the progesterone level drops close to zero.  They will be camping comfortably just outside the Elephant Barn in a caravan on loan from Jayco, which has also assisted by lending a caravan for the previous three elephant births. 

Veterinarians will begin staying overnight once the progesterone level reaches zero.

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