It's a boy! Melbourne Zoo welcomes second Elephant calf
Melbourne Zoo is celebrating the safe arrival of a second healthy Asian Elephant calf, born late on Friday night to first-time Mum, Mali. Its sex has been confirmed as male.
Many may recall that dam, Mali, who is now 12 years old, was the first female elephant born in Australia, and the first to be born via artificial insemination. Sire, Luk Chai, who arrived at Melbourne Zoo from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020, was the first male elephant to be born in Australia.
The calf is the second to be sired by Luk Chai, whose first calf was born two weeks ago at Melbourne Zoo to dam Dokkoon, who is also Mali’s mother. This makes Mali's newborn calf the first all-Australian elephant calf to be born nationally.
Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Science Manager, Erin Gardiner, said the team is thrilled and relieved to welcome the second of the three calves due over the next few months, with the final calf expected in January 2023 to Num Oi.
“We are thrilled and relieved that Mali’s first birth went so well, and that she is bonding and feeding successfully with her calf under the protective watch of the herd,” Ms Gardiner said.
“Mali’s calf is strong and healthy and looks to be larger than our first calf, born to Dokkoon on 16 November 2022.”
The two calves will be raised by the entire herd, with huge benefits for herd cohesion, social development and the natural raising of young elephants.
This newborn will be named over coming weeks through a competition for the public, conducted via Zoos Victoria's social media channels.
Allowing the herd and new mother Mali to settle in with two new calves will take some time, and neither will be visible to the public for the next week.
“Two calves born in such close proximity is a wonderful occasion for the herd and they will require time and privacy to settle in and get to know one another,” Ms Gardiner said. “We look forward to introducing the calf to our community of elephant-lovers soon when the herd is ready.
“We can't wait to share the antics of the calves with our community of elephant-lovers as soon as they’ve had a chance to bond with the herd in privacy.”
Zoos Victoria is part of a regional breeding program for Asian Elephants, which are classified as Endangered in the wild by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List. Zoos Victoria also maintains an international partnership with Fauna and Flora International, which is undertaking field work in Vietnam to establish wild elephant numbers and better understand the threats Asian Elephants face in the region.
As previously announced, the entire Asian Elephant herd – including the calves - will move from Melbourne Zoo to Werribee Open Range Zoo in 2024, following completion of an $88million expansion funded by the Victorian Government.