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Taronga Elephant Calf_by Lachlan McFeeters

Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s male Asian Elephant calf has been officially named ‘Sabai’, which means peaceful, happiness, relaxed or comfortable in Thai.

The name was chosen from almost 1500 suggestions. The competition called for suggestions that reflected the Thai origin of the Elephants. The winning submission came from Belle Lordan of Dubbo, NSW, Australia.

“We chose the name Sabai as the whole team felt it was fitting of his personality and demeanor and really suited a male elephant,” said Elephant Supervisor, Glenn Sullivan.

“Sabai is almost one month old and is continuing to progress well, meeting all the key milestones for a calf his age. He is very strong and confident and is steadily gaining weight,” said Glenn.

1_Taronga Elephant Calf_by Rick Stevens

2_Taronga Elephant Calf

3_Taronga Elephant Calf and Aunty Porntip_by Rick StevensPhoto Credits: Taronga Western Plains Zoo & Lachlan McFeeters (Image: 1) ; Rick Stevens (Images: 2,4)

Sabai was recently introduced to his brother, Luk Chai, through a fence, which was a very positive experience. Keepers hope to introduce Luk Chai to the herd in the future so Sabai can learn natural male elephant behaviors from his brother.

“Sabai is like most elephants and really loves the water, whether he is being hosed down by his keepers or splashing about in a shallow pool,” said Glenn.

“Thong Dee and [Aunty] Porntip are continuing to be very caring and nurturing of the young calf and he is often seen running from one adult to the other,” said Glenn.

Over the next few weeks keepers will expect to see the calf continue to grow in confidence and be increasingly inquisitive about the environment around him.

ZooBorns introduced readers to the little calf in an article from early November: Little Asian Elephant Calf Is a Really ‘Big’ Deal.

The calf was the first Asian Elephant born at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in Dubbo. He was born November 1 to mom, Thong Dee, and dad, Gung.

Taronga has now welcomed four Elephant calves, across both of its zoo facilities, since the breeding program commenced 10 years ago (with three calves born in Sydney).

The Asian or Asiatic Elephant (Elephas maximus) is the only living species of the genus Elephas and is distributed in Southeast Asia from India in the west to Borneo in the east. Three subspecies are recognized: E. m. maximus from Sri Lanka, the E. m. indicus from mainland Asia, and E. m. sumatranus from the island of Sumatra. They are the largest living land animals in Asia.

Since 1986, E. maximus has been listed as “Endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The population has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations, estimated to be 60–75 years. The species is primarily threatened by degradation, fragmentation and loss of habitat, and poaching.