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Australian and ( NZ) Elephants news and discussion

Discussion in 'Australia' started by Jambo, 20 Sep 2018.

  1. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Sad news from the TWPZ thread today. 62 year old Gigi has died. :( It leaves TWPZ with 4.4 Asian elephants: Gung, Luk Chai, Pathi Harn, Sabai, Burma, Porntip, Thong Dee and Kanlaya.

    Article link here: Zoo mourns the loss of elderly elephant Gigi
     
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  2. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    This comment, ‘keepers are closely monitoring her well-being and providing her with opportunity to socialise with the zoo’s other elephants through fence contact as she deals with her loss’, is very intriguing.

    I think that this is great for Burma! I wonder which elephants she is interacting with, and if she is interested in them? Her joining the female herd, with Thong Dee and Porntip, and their offspring will be a great development for Burma. The only thing that is a problem is that Burma will put Porntip’s role of matriarch at risk as I believe Burma is a dominant female. She has had agressive tendencies in the past with other elephants and keepers, which is the reason she was never introduced to the young Thai herd of elephants. But with Gigi gone, things might change?
     
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  3. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    She's quite fond of Sabai according to this article:

    Sabai turns two!

    "Sabai also likes interacting with our oldest elephant Burma who is 62 years old, and they will often spend hours chasing each other up and down the fence line during the day."
     
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  4. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    I have lost track of the elephants so was wondering if there are any pregnant cows at the moment.
     
  5. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Not to public knowledge, no.

    The three breeding females at Taronga/Taronga Western Plains Zoo all gave birth for the second time between 2016 and 2018, which followed on from their first calves 7-8 years prior. Following this pattern, they probably won’t be breeding again for at least five years.

    The breeding programme at Melbourne Zoo seems to have stagnated. Kulab and Dokoon haven’t bred again since their last calves in 2010 and 2013 respectively; Num Oi hasn’t been bred again since the death of her last calf in 2016; and there appear to be no plans to breed from nine year old Mali.

    Auckland Zoo may be the next to welcome an elephant calf; as it has long been their intention to breed from 13 year old Anjali, through AI.
     
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  6. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the detailed reply. I have concerns about what is happening, the few births for each into usual cow, long time between them and so on but then I'm not involved the program.
     
  7. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    You’re welcome @jay.

    I’m no expert, but I understand large interbirth intervals are detrimental to the reproductive health of the cow as each reproductive cycle (approx 14 to 18 weeks in length) adds to the scarring of the reproductive system. Obviously no additional reproductive cycles would occur during the 22 month pregnancy; and less scarring would occur during a short interbirth interval, than a long one. It is also advisable for cows to be bred by the age of 24 years. This was not done with females like Burma (1982) at Auckland Zoo; or Permai (1989) at Perth Zoo, who will now never be bred from. In my opinion, it’s unlikely Tang Mo (1999) at Taronga Zoo will ever breed.

    I agree that the interbirth intervals of seven to eight years at Taronga/Taronga Western Plains Zoo aren’t ideal; but considering the limited placements for elephants in the region, are probably the best compromise of breeding at a rate to maintain reproductive health. Melbourne Zoo on the other hand (with larger interbirth intervals) are arguably pushing things to the limit as far as ideal reproductive health is concerned.

    Unlike some of the European zoos, which have been plagued by EEHV, the Australasian region has been relatively fortunate. It’s a cruel irony that those zoos that suffer high losses of calves are therefore able to breed their cows at the optimium rate to sustain their reproductive health, in order to sustain a herd.
     
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  8. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    It will be important to create more open range space for the elephant program at home. Admittedly, the interval between births in breeding cows locally is detrimental to the longterm viability of Asiatic elephants locally.
     
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  9. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    I’m hoping if Melbourne’s herd move to Werribee Open Range Zoo, this will reboot their breeding programme.

    It’s frustrating to see genetically valuable animals (i.e. founders) not being utilised (bred) to even a fraction of their potential.
     
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  10. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    Yes you described really well my concerns. Also as has happened with the black rhino program I worry that it will eventually end up with just one or two female lines, especially considering the high male to female ratio of births.
     
  11. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Yes, as after 11 births there are now only two female lines:

    Porntip (1992) > Kanlaya (2018)
    Dokoon (1993) > Mali (2010)

    The death of Tukta (2010-2018) was a huge blow to the breeding programme.

    The logical step seems to be for Melbourne Zoo to import the bull from Perth; but I’m wondering if this will be delayed until Man Jai (2013) is past the critical age of contracting EEHV, since deaths of calves have sometimes followed the introduction of a new elephant to the facility.
     
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  12. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Any (chance for) plans for an elephant facility at Werribee (or given the African "open range" focus out of the question)?
     
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  13. toothlessjaws

    toothlessjaws Well-Known Member

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    Zoos Victoria have put out at least two press releases declaring their decision to "move the elephants to Werribee" since the younger animals arrived from Thailand. In that time they have built countless new exhibits for other species. Its clear from their actions this is not a priority. As stated previously they also seem to have stopped breeding which is of real concern. Had they moved their animals to Werribee I have little doubt that Bong Su would still be alive.

    Auckland clearly have no intention of breeding elephants or holding a herd, despite their statements. They initially dropped out of the original Thai import plans, not wanting to invest in facilities for a bull. Had they not dropped out, they wouldn't have been left with a lone elephant for many years. They then declared they were importing numerous more animals, only to eventually import just one (which was suspiciously uneconomical). They since have since claimed they will be breeding from AI - yet nothing has happened despite the years ticking by with a breeding age cow. They also still haven't planned to develop a bull exhibit - a must if you are going to breed elephants be it with AI or not.

    Personally, i'd like to see legislation enacted that created minimum standards for elephants that forced the urban zoos to give them up. Because i don't trust them to do it on their own.
     
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  14. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Hardly an ideal situation I admit.
     
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  15. jay

    jay Well-Known Member

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    One of the issues obviously is lack of space and without more zoos coming on board this won't be solved. Personally I think what is needed is a dedicated mega fauna facility where large numbers of individual species can be held and bred properly. Species such as the elephants rhinos etc. It may or may not be open to the public but if it is only basic facilities should be provided. (No five star glamping swallowing up all the money) the focus should be on providing facilities for a proper breeding program.
     
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  16. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    I think you will find that Zoos Vic are very committed to moving the elephants to Werribee. However the budget for this ($80million which includes replacement exhibits at Melbourne) is not "business as usual" and would require substantial government support. One day there will be an announcement that the money is available and it will go ahead.

    There are those of us of course who said it should never have been built at Melbourne in the first place...
     
  17. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Melbourne have renovated their Asian Elephant enclosure.



    The Trail of the Elephants enclosures have been upgraded to incorporate an array of new enrichment opportunities. This includes: hoisted feeders, tree trunks, a large dirt mound, and bark-covered logs to provide the elephants with a fun-filled space to stimulate and engage their senses.
     
    Last edited: 30 May 2019
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  18. MRJ

    MRJ Well-Known Member

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    All standard enrichment items that would have to changes/added on a regular basis. Nothing of an intensive capital nature that could not be moved.
     
  19. Zoofan15

    Zoofan15 Well-Known Member

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    Man Jai is fast growing into an impressive young bull. His tusks have really grown lately. He appears to still spend most, if not all of his time with the female herd. It’s worth noting that Gung at Taronga wasn’t much older when he sired his first calf; so it won’t be long before Melbourne Zoo have to consider management options, especially considering the only female in the herd he could realistically reach at this age is his sister, Mali.

    I have no idea what Melbourne Zoo’s plans are for future breeding; but breeding Man Jai with Kulab and Num Oi could be a feasible option in the next couple of years. While the breeding of (unrelated) founder bulls is favoured over first generation bulls, using Man Jai as the sire would decrease the risk of EEHV being introduced into a herd which to date, appears unaffected.
     
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  20. Jambo

    Jambo Well-Known Member

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    Man Jai is growing pretty quickly. His tusks are beginning to look what a normal bull’s would look like. He is still noticeably smaller than the female’s, but almost as tall as Mali, if not the same size. He does spend all his time with the female herd; Man Jai is currently 5 and a half, and Gung sired his first calf at the age of 6, so in the next few months Man Jai may reach reproductive age, and be able to mate with Mali soon.

    They will probably have to seperate him from the female herd in the coming months to make sure there is no inbreeding. Man Jai could be realistically bred with Num-oi and Kulab, and could be used as the breeding bull at the zoo. Mali and Dokkon could then be bred through AI, with either Putra Mas, or Gung being the sire.

    Melbourne are probably very proactive to EEHV, after Tukta passed away at Taronga last year. This may be the reason that they haven’t imported a bull yet, until Man Jai has reached the age that he is no longer prone to EEHV.
     
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