Taronga Western Plains Zoo is excited to announce that Asian Elephant Porntip is pregnant and expecting her second calf in July 2018.
Porntip was artificially inseminated in late 2016 with semen collected from Perth Zoo’s bull, Putra Mas.
“This impending birth will see a new genetic blood line created in the Australasian region’s Asian Elephant population, as Putra Mas’ first calf sadly passed away at Melbourne Zoo,” said Elephant Keeper, Bradd Johnston.
The conservation breeding program for Asian Elephants in Australia has been tremendously successful, with three calves born at Taronga Zoo and another one due soon, five calves at Melbourne Zoo and one calf in Dubbo.
“This will be Porntip’s second calf,” said Bradd. “She gave birth to her to her first calf, Pathi Harn, at Taronga Zoo in 2010.”
“Porntip has played a very prominent role in supporting Thong Dee to raise Sabai, the male Asian Elephant calf born at Dubbo on 2 November 2016. Porntip is a very nurturing elephant. She treats Sabai as if he was her own, which we hope continues when her own calf is born next year,” said Bradd.
This announcement marks almost two years since four Asian Elephants – Thong Dee, Porntip, Luk Chai and Pathi Harn – arrived at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo from Taronga Zoo in Sydney as the region’s conservation breeding program expanded.
“Staff will keep Porntip’s routine as similar as possible for the remaining 15 months of her pregnancy. She will be monitored by her keepers and our veterinary team to ensure her pregnancy progresses well during this time.”
“Taronga and partner zoos have established a conservation breeding program for Asian Elephants in Australia over the past decade. As with any conservation breeding program, the long-term aim is to preserve the genetic diversity of an endangered species within zoos as an insurance population, in the event the wild population was to collapse in the future,” said Bradd.
This successful breeding program has been an important catalyst for Taronga’s work in the field with governments and conservation agencies in Asia to turn around the decline of Asian Elephants. Taronga also funds wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help suppress elephant poaching.
The gestation for an Asian Elephant is approximately 22 months. Asian Elephants are classified as endangered with wild populations declining mainly due to habitat loss. There is estimated to be fewer than 50,000 Asian Elephants remaining across 13 countries.
Source: Taronga Western Plains Zoo
Image credit: Rick Stevens