A festive gathering at the Zoo this morning celebrated two significant events: the 11th anniversary of the opening of Trail of the Elephants and Thailand’s National Elephant Day.
The exciting arrival of three young female elephants from Thailand in 2007 enabled the Zoo to help establish a national conservation breeding program for the endangered Asian Elephants.
Dokkoon, Kulab, and Num-Oi joined longtime residents Mek Kapah and her companion, the male elephant Bong Su.
Now the Trail of the Elephants herd numbers eight elephants, including four-year-old Mali, three-year-old Ongard, and three-month-old Man Jai.
Thailand and Australia marked the 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations in 2012, and the elephant program has strengthened the Zoo’s ties to the Thai community in Melbourne.
The elephants and their home were blessed today by monks from local Thai Buddhist monasteries.
Thai dancers also performed a blessing dance.
Thai Consul Dr. Simon Wallace explained that the blessing ceremony aims to bring about compassion for all living creatures.
The herd’s youngest member Man Jai is Mali’s full brother, the offspring of Bong Su and Dokkoon.
Mali’s birth in 2010 made history, as she was the Zoo’s first-ever calf and also the first female calf born in Australia.
Mother Dokkoon made history again by becoming the first elephant in Australia to have a second calf, with the birth of Man Jai in December.
Trail of the Elephants is sponsored by ANZ.