The Director and CEO of Taronga Conservation Society Australia, Cameron Kerr, today announced Taronga’s new Elephant calf will be named “Jai Dee” meaning ‘good heart’ in Thai.
The calf, born four weeks ago, was blessed with his new name today in a ceremony with Thai Buddhist Monks, which reflects his Thai cultural heritage. The name was chosen by the late philanthropist Janis Salisbury, whose generosity supported Taronga’s Asian Elephant Breeding Programme.
“Taronga is grateful to the Royal Thai Consul General, Mr Nathapol Khantahiran and the Thai Buddhist Monks for making Jai Dee’s naming day so special. Although this is now the fourth Elephant calf naming ceremony at Taronga, every single one is precious to us,” said Taronga Conservation Society Australia Director and CEO Cameron Kerr.
Jai Dee is the 10th calf born in the last 11 years to the regional Conservation breeding Program for Asian elephants in Australia, which includes Taronga Zoo. At Taronga Zoo, Luk Chai, the first male was born in 2009 followed by Pathi Harn in 2010. The first female calf Tukta was born in 2010, with Sabai born in 2016 at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
“The speed and success of this program clearly demonstrates the benefits of a coordinated, scientifically based program to support Asian Elephants, of which there may be as few as 35,000 remaining in the wild,” said Mr Kerr.
Jai Dee is the second calf that mother Pak Boon has given birth to, with sister Tukta (Thai for “doll”) born in 2010. Keepers were amazed that Pak Boon’s gestation for both Jai Dee and Pak Boon was almost identical at 659 days, with Jai Dee in the womb for only 20 minutes more.
“Jai Dee certainly has a strong heart, and is growing exponentially; since his birth four weeks ago, he’s put on 40 kilograms by drinking 12 litres of his mother’s milk each day. Although he’s trying to figure out how his trunk works, he’s a little more stable standing on his own legs, with big sister Tukta keeping close watch over him with mother Pak Boon,” said Senior Keeper of Elephants Lucy Melo.
“For the time being, Jai Dee can be seen from the lower paddock with his mother and sister, and we look forward to when they feel comfortable as a family and herd to let Jai Dee start exploring the top paddock,” said Senior Keeper Lucy.
Jai Dee can be seen at different times throughout the day, exploring the lower paddock, playing with his mother Pak Boon, sister Tukta, and aunt Tang Mo.