Melbourne Zoo's herd welcomes elephant calf

16 November 2022

Melbourne Zoo is celebrating the safe arrival of a healthy elephant calf born in the early hours of this morning – with sex yet to be determined.

Mother Dokkoon gave birth at 1am, surrounded by other female members of Melbourne Zoo's tightly bonded Asian Elephant herd.

The birth follows a 22-month pregnancy during which Dokkoon and the calf's health was carefully monitored by Zoo vets and keepers.

Melbourne Zoo Trail of the Elephants Life Science Manager, Erin Gardiner, said the team is thrilled to welcome the first of three calves due over the next few months.

“It is such a joy to welcome this beautiful elephant calf to our herd and to witness its first interactions with its mother and other members of the herd,” Ms Gardiner said.

The calf is the first to be born at Melbourne Zoo through natural conception, thanks to first-time father Luk Chai who arrived at Melbourne Zoo from Taronga Western Plains Zoo in December 2020.

Two more calves are due to be born at Melbourne Zoo by early next year [2023], with Num Oi and Mali also pregnant. The simultaneous pregnancies mean the calves will be raised by the entire herd, with huge benefits for herd cohesion, social development and the natural raising of young elephants.

Zoo members and visitors can follow the calf's progress via Zoos Victoria’s official social channels, which will provide updates on when the calf might be visible to the public.

“We are giving mother and calf all the quiet time and space they need to bond and develop their relationship with one another and the herd,” Ms Gardiner said. “We look forward to introducing the calf to our community of elephant lovers in the coming days when mum and bub are ready. 

“We know many people will be bursting with excitement to visit the calf, but it will stay small for a long time so there will be plenty of opportunities for everyone to meet the calf in coming weeks and months.”

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.