Cameron Kerr, the director and CEO of Taronga Conservation Society Australia, announced the name of Taronga’s new elephant calf last weekend. The name, a traditional Thai name was selected by the late Janis Salisbury whose generosity supported Taronga’s Asian Elephant Breeding Program.
Taronga’s new elephant calf has been named Jai Dee which translates from Thai as “good heart.”
Upon receiving his new name, the calf was blessed by Buddhist monks in a traditional ceremony reflecting his Thai heritage.
Image: Monks blessing the new calf, Taronga Zoo
“Taronga is grateful to the Royal Thai Consul General, Mr Nathapol Khantahiran and the Thai Buddhist Monks for making Jai Dee’s naming day so special. Although this is now the fourth Elephant calf naming ceremony at Taronga, every single one is precious to us,” said Taronga Conservation Society Australia Director and CEO Cameron Kerr.
Jai Dee is the 10th elephant calf born to Australia’s regional Conservation Breeding program in the past eleven years.
The speed and success of this program clearly demonstrates the benefits of a coordinated, scientifically based program to support Asian Elephants, of which there may be as few as 35,000 remaining in the wild, said Mr Kerr.
Pak Boon has given birth to two elephant calves. Tukta (Thai for Doll) a female elephant and then most recently Jai Dee. Pak Boon stunned Taronga’s keepers when both her gestation periods for her two calves were an almost identical 659 days.
Image: Traditional Thai dancers, Taronga Zoo
“Jai Dee certainly has a strong heart, and is growing exponentially; since his birth four weeks ago, he’s put on 40 kilograms by drinking 12 litres of his mother’s milk each day. Although he’s trying to figure out how his trunk works, he’s a little more stable standing on his own legs, with big sister Tukta keeping close watch over him with mother Pak Boon,” said Senior Keeper of Elephants Lucy Melo.
For the time being, Jai Dee can be seen from the lower paddock with his mother and sister, and we look forward to when they feel comfortable as a family and herd to let Jai Dee start exploring the top paddock, said Senior Keeper Lucy.
Asian Elephants are critically endangered with an estimated 35,000 left in the wild; it makes them more endangered than the larger African Elephant. Much like most species of elephant their numbers have dwindled due to poaching and habitation loss.
Program’s such Taronga’s Conservation Society is leading the way in terms of conservation, research, animal welfare, wildlife rehabilitation and environmental education.
Header: New elephant calf, Taronga Zoo