July 6, 2009

Endangered Asian Elephant Gives Birth In Australian Zoo

A 265-pound elephant was born in Australia on an effort to help to conserve the scarce Asian elephant.

The male was born in Sydney's Taronga Zoo on Saturday and was vigorous and created curious responses from its herd, zoo officials announced.

Thong Dee, an elephant brought to the zoo in 2006 after several logging camps were shut down, gave birth to the calf.

"Thong Dee's maternal instincts are kicking in, and she's being very protective of the newborn," elephant keeper Kat published on a zoo blog. "The little calf is suckling and standing close to mum, but getting a bit wobbly."

In another post, another keeper added that: "The other cows all are all curious. They're reaching into Thong Dee's pen to try to touch the little elephant with their trunks. They even look worried if the calf makes a little sound."

Taronga Zoo director Guy Cooper stated on Sunday that the calf was feeding successfully, which means good health is a possibility. Newborn elephants can quickly drop weight out of the womb if they are not feeding correctly.

"He's already quite assertive," Cooper said to reporters on Sunday.

The group of elephants is part of a breeding program that strives to conserve the Asian elephant.

The species is endangered in the wild, with a mere 34,000 animals alive on the continent.

Two other elephants are also expecting and will give birth in 2010 and in 2011.


On the Net: