Taronga Conservation Society has started an Asian elephant breeding program at their zoo in Sydney, and their first elephant calf was birthed on July 4, 2009. The keepers have been videotaping the baby's progression and compiled an interesting montage starting just before the elephant calf reared its head during the birthing progress through some of the early development stages.
If you're reading via RSS or email, click here to watch the video.
All babies are cute, but elephant baby cuteness makes me completely melt! I especially love watching the calf first learning how to use his trunk, before the muscles are developed. So sweet.
The elephant keepers held a baby elephant-naming contest and selected the boy's name "Luk Chai" as the winner. It's a traditional Thai name that means "son." Hopefully the first of many siblings to come!
Baby elephant Luk Chai is blessed in a traditional Buddhist ceremony at Taronga Zoo. Photo: James Brickwood. Source: Sydney Morning Herald.
Nine Buddhist monks came from Sydney and Canberra to bestow blessings of good health and success upon the Australian elephant baby and a Christian Reverend delivered a ecumenical blessing by burning gum leaves. Click here to read the full story.
While it was our baby elephant friend Luk Chai that received the spiritual blessings, his arrival is auspicious for Asian elephant conservationists who are trying to increase the number of Asian elephants (estimated at 35,000 world wide.) Out of space to roam freely due to conflicting needs between humans and elephants, Asian elephants are becoming alarmingly rare. Although conservation measures for wild elephants are of extreme importance, captive breeding programs also help us to study, learn, and preserve genetic diversity for endangered species.
Welcome to the world, Luk Chai!
Thank you to elephant lover Christine for alerting me to this story.