The young female was born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in country NSW on Friday 14 June, 2018 at 3:07am to mother, ‘Porntip’ and Perth male, Putra Mas via artificial insemination which was conducted in late 2016.
The birth is a significant achievement and the first time Putra Mas’ genetics have been successfully represented, creating a new bloodline in the Australasian Breeding Program which aims to fight extinction of the endangered species.
Senior Elephant Keeper, Kirsty Carey, said: “Putra Mas’ genetics are very valuable, so we are delighted that after more than 14 years of hard work he now has offspring and made a valuable contribution to the regional breeding program.”
“Putra Mas’ name means ‘golden prince’ and he has certainly lived up to that name,” said Kirsty.
“The fact that this calf is a female makes the birth even more special as it heralds the beginning of a new genetic blood line for the wider Asian Elephant conservation and breeding program.”
With less than 35,000 Asian Elephants left in the wild, Perth Zoo is a proud participant in the regional program, contributing sperm from Putra Mas via artificial insemination.
It is no small feat to artificially inseminate an elephant.
“With AI, everything is timed down to the minute, it has to be precise. There has never been any success with elephant semen being frozen and thawed out, so we work very closely with the zoos around the country to pinpoint the exact time the females are ovulating, do a collection from Putra Mas and get it onto a plane to the waiting elephant,” said Kirsty.
“We often work with experts from the Berlin Institute for Zoo Biology and have refined our techniques over time which has resulted in the birth of this beautiful female calf.”
“Not only are we personally thrilled that Putra Mas now has a calf, reproduction technology is increasingly important for saving species, and that is what we are here to do – save wildlife.”
Putra Mas’ daughter joins a herd of eight other elephants at Dubbo. Mother and calf will be given further time to bond behind-the-scenes before making their public debut. Taronga Western Plains Zoo will soon be announcing a competition to help choose a name for the calf.