Melbourne Zoo in Australia

Melbourne Zoo
Bong Su, Dokkoon, Num Oi, Kulab and Mek Kapah. Melbourne Zoo 2008. Photo: © Molly Flora
Bong Su, Dokkoon, Num Oi, Kulab and Mek Kapah. Melbourne Zoo 2008. Photo: © Molly Flora

Local nameRoyal Melbourne Zoological Park
First elephant arrived1883

Directors1882-1902: Albert Alexander Cochrane Le Souef (1828-1902)
1902-1923: William Henry Dudley Le Souef (1856-1923)
Michelle Bruggeman

VeterinariansDr Michael Lynch
Google map
Relevant literature


Melbourne Zoo, in Melbourne, Australia, was founded in 1882 and the first elephant arrived in 1883.

Living elephants

At Melbourne Zoo lives 7 elephants with records in this database: (detail list)

  1. Chaba born 1993
  2. ,
  3. Kulab born 2000
  4. ,
  5. Luk Chai born 2009-07-04
  6. ,
  7. Mali born 2010-01-16
  8. ,
  9. Man Jai born 2013-12-08
  10. ,
  11. Mek Kapah born 1973
  12. ,
  13. Num-Oi born 2001
  14. ,

Comments / pictures

1883: The Royal Melbourne Zoological Park received its first elephant in 1883 from Calcutta, a year after opening an institution modeled after the London Zoo. The female Asian elephant, named Ranee, died 21 years after her arrival.

1902: The zoo’s most famous elephant, Queenie, arrived in 1902 and gave rides for more than forty years

1944: she killed a keeper in 1944 (possibly by accident).

1945: The following year she was put down by zoo management due to a food shortage stemming from World War II.

Elephant rides in Melbourne zoo 1954.

1962: The zoo discontinued elephant rides. The two oldest residing elephants at the Melbourne Zoo, Bong Su and Mek Kapah, arrived in 1977 and 1978, respectively. They would remain together until the import of three juvenile females from Thailand in 2006.

1977: Bong Su arrived in February 1977 as a gift from the Sultan of Pahang, West Malaysia.

2003: The $15 million "Trail of the Elephants" exhibit opened in 2003, the result of preparations for building a regional captive elephant breeding program, one of the first in Australia. Under a joint collaboration between the Melbourne and Taronga Zoos, eight elephants were imported from Thailand’s successful and large domestic breeding population. Legal action and protests, located in both Thailand and Australia, delayed the elephants’ importation for two years after quarantine in both southern Thailand and the Cocos Islands. Diplomatic and ministerial negotiations between the two countries succeeded.

2006: In November 2006, the eight animals were flown to the Avalon Airport by a Russian Ilyushin cargo plane and delivered to their new homes via tray trucks. Females Num-Oi, Kulab and Dokkoon found new home in Melbourne, while females Tong Dee, Tang Mao, Porntip, and Pak Boon and male Gung made residence in Sydney.

2008: In March 2008, fifteen year old Dokkoon was artificially inseminated by elephant fertility experts from Berlin and zoo vets with sperm from the zoo’s bull, Bong Su. She was confirmed pregnant in June via ultrasound. She was the first elephant in Australia to conceive a calf through AI. In November 2008, a second pregnancy at the Melbourne Zoo was initiated after ten year old Kulab was artificially inseminated by elephant fertility experts from Berlin and zoo vets with sperm from the zoo’s bull, Bong Su. She was confirmed pregnant in February via ultrasound. The Melbourne Zoo’s bull elephant Bong Su, who arrived in February 1977 as a gift from the Sultan of Pahang, West Malaysia, is said to be the one of the world’s most fertile Asian elephants in the world. His sperm concentration was repeatedly measured between 2.2-2.5 billion per milliliter, compared to the average 600-800 million per milliliter. He is involved in research projects regarding freezing and exporting sperm after the donation of a sperm-freezing machine from the German Government.

2010: Dokkoon gave birth in January 2010 to a female calf. The new calf, born to seventeen year old first time mother Dokkoon, set several records. She was the first elephant born in the 147-year history of the Melbourne Zoo and the first elephant born via artificial insemination in Australia. She was the second elephant born in Australia, following the birth of a male calf in July 2009 at the Taronga Zoo. She joined the current herd of three females, her dam, and her sire, Bong Su.

References for records about Melbourne Zoo

Recommended Citation

Koehl, Dan (2021). Melbourne Zoo, Elephant Encyclopedia. Available online at (archived at the Wayback machine)

Sources used for this article is among others:

Melbourne Zoo on

Melbourne Zoo is mentioned on Elephant News:

DateLinks which opens in new window
Melbourne zoo's new elephants due by christmas - Elephant News
2006-11-06Melbourne zoo: elephants are here! - Elephant News
2006-12-06Elephants settle into new home in melbourne zoo - Elephant News
2008-02-24Hopes for patter of elephant feet - Elephant News
2008-06-02Melbourne zoo celebrates elephant pregnancy - Elephant News
Melbourne elephant breaks fertility record - Elephant News
2008-08-19Melbourne zoo’s new elephant is pregnant - Elephant News
Three elephants pregnant in australia - Elephant News
2008-11-25Melbourne zoo's super-stud could help save species - Elephant News
2008-12-03Where elephants walk - Elephant News
Melbourne zoo celebrates second elephant pregnancy - Elephant News
2009-02-21Bong su the elephant is set to become a father - Elephant News
2009-12-04Vet awaits big day - the birth of an elephant - Elephant News
2010-01-16Dokkoon delivers - Elephant News
2010-02-11Zoo urged to move elephant herd to werribee - Elephant News
2010-02-09Werribee’s jumbo nursery - Elephant News
2016-08-02Nestled with mother, vets and keepers, 'little fighter' willow loses her battle - Elephant News
Melbourne zoo's boisterous new baby elephant has plenty to trumpet about - he has a new name. - Elephant News
2013-12-04Baby elephant sanook died accidentally while playing with favourite toy, melbourne zoo says - Elephant News
2013-11-12Victoria's top tourist attraction named at awards - Elephant News
2013-10-29Melbourne zoo elephant expecting second calf soon - Elephant News
2013-03-14Meet sanook: melbourne zoo's baby elephant named by herald sun readers - Elephant News
2020-11-24Fired elephant keeper breaks back into the zoo to feed and photograph the animals - adding to series of offences as his life unravelled due to cancer and a drug habit - Elephant News

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This document was updated: 2021-07-22 11:32:32

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