PERTH Zoo Asian Elephant male Putra Mas has sired a calf with a female at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in country New South Wales.
The calf, which was born in the early hours of Friday morning, was conceived by mother Porntip and Putra Mas via artificial insemination 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.
“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,” Perth Zoo’s senior elephant keeper Kirsty Carey said.
“Putra Mas’ name means ‘golden prince’ and he has certainly lived up to that name.
“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 – no small feat in elephants.
“With AI, everything is timed down to the minute, it has to be precise,” Ms Carey said.
“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.
“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.”
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.