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First elephant calf born in Australia


4 July 2009


SYDNEY'S Taronga Zoo has welcomed the first elephant calf to be born in Australia.


The male calf was born to Asian elephant Thong Dee at about 3.08am (AEST) in the zoo's Elephant Barn.


After a three hour labour, Thong Dee, who was a street elephant in Bangkok, was surprised by the calf and took time to calm down after the birth.


She greeted her new baby by touching his trunk.


By morning, the calf was trying to suckle, which zoo keepers say is an excellent result.


"Although it's very soon since the delivery, the early signs are good and we will monitor mother and calf very closely, providing every possible support," Taronga Zoo director Guy Cooper said.


Mr Cooper said zoo staff had been eagerly anticipating the birth.


"They were with her throughout the night and have been sleeping at the barn to support Thong Dee the instant she went into labour," he said.


The other female elephants at the zoo, Porntip, Pak Boon and Tang Mo watched the birth with interest from adjoining pens.


Porntip is pregnant with Taronga's first calf conceived by artificial insemination, due early next year, while Pak Boon is expecting the zoo's second naturally-conceived calf in early 2011.


Mr Cooper said the breeding program had been successful.


As few as 34,000 Asian Elephants are thought to remain in Asia.


Another four of the seven cows in the Australasian program are also pregnant.


The calf is not expected to go on display for some days.

May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. "Hari Om Tat Sat"

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