Taronga expects elephant calf in 2017

Environment Minister Mark Speakman today marked the Thai New Year by announcing the pregnancy of Taronga Zoo’s Thai elephant, Pak Boon.

Expectant elephant, Pak Boon, at Taronga Zoo

The new calf will be the fourth born at the zoo as part of Taronga’s regional conservation breeding program. The first calf, a male called Luk Chai, was born at Taronga in 2009. The regional program, which also includes Melbourne Zoo, has already produced seven calves in seven years.

“This is a perfect time to announce this conservation breeding success, as the traditional Thai festival of Songkran celebrates New Year in Thailand which is a time of renewal and new beginnings,” Mr Speakman said.

In 2004, the Royal Thai Government and the NSW Government signed a memorandum of understanding to bring five elephants (one male and four females including Pak Boon) to Taronga as part of the Australasian Conservation Breeding Program for Asian Elephants.

“Pak Boon’s pregnancy is a fitting opportunity to introduce zoo visitors to the cultural significance of elephants in Thailand and share Taronga’s determination to support elephants, which are an endangered species,” Mr Speakman said.

The Thai Consul-General, Mr Nathapol Khantahiran, joined Taronga to celebrate Pak Boon’s pregnancy and the Songkran Festival. In Thailand, elephants have spiritual significance and are regarded as the national animal.

Taronga also supports ranger stations in Thailand’s Kui Buri National Park, which has helped the Royal Thai Government successfully suppress elephant poaching in southern Thailand.

Mr Speakman said it was important for Taronga and other like-minded organisations to do everything in their power to raise public awareness and support governments across Asia in their fight against poaching.

Pak Boon is an experienced mother, who delivered the zoo’s first female calf, Tukta, in 2010.