PHOTOS

Taronga Western Plains Zoo celebrates World Elephant Day in Dubbo

Thong Dee, Porntip and her calf Kanlaya celebrated World Elephant Day with a buffet of treats on Wednesday.

August 12 is World Elephant Day. It aims to spread awareness of elephants and their plight in the wild.

For Dubbo's eight Asian elephants, the day started with a colourful treat.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo keeper Dee Ellery said it was "dire" for Asian elephants in the wild.

They're endangered due to a loss of habitat from expanding populations and deforestation. Human and elephant conflict is also an issue as the population encroaches on elephant territory.

But Ms Ellery said the Dubbo elephant breeding program was pretty amazing.

"Luk Chai was the first one born in Australia and he's only 11. It shows you how young our breeding program is. And we're working with zoos in our whole region, the breeding program doesn't just involve Taronga," the keeper said.

"Kanlaya is a perfect example of that. Kanlaya's father is actually over in Perth, she was an artificial insemination baby."

Because animals don't like being away from their social groups, artificial insemination was used to keep Kanlaya's father in Perth, while increasing the genetic gene pool at the zoo.

With her fun-loving personality, Kanlaya is already helping to boost awareness for the species.

"I don't know what it is about elephants but everyone loves them. They always do bring such joy. They're an amazing animal, they're so smart and you can see in their eyes they're very caring animals as well," Ms Ellery said.

The keeper said one of the most amazing things was their unique trunk.

While the human body has 650 muscles, elephants have 40,000 just in their trunk.

"And they've got like a tiny little finger on the end so they can pick up the tiniest piece of hay with their trunk or they can smash some nice big ice blocks. It's a really cool tool that they have," Ms Ellery said.

To help the plight of the Asian elephant, you're encouraged to visit Dubbo's zoo, learn more about the animals and help spread the word.

This story Elephants celebrate their day with buffet bonanza first appeared on Daily Liberal.