World Elephant Day: Taronga Western Plains Zoo's elephants prepare for special day, Photos, video

The fight to conserve Taronga Western Plains Zoo’s gentle giants will take centre stage on Sunday as the zoo marks World Elephant Day.

Animal lovers are being encouraged to take advantage of free, behind-the-scenes barn tours and an interactive touch table on the day, to learn more about the threats facing the Asian elephant.

The species is considered critically endangered, with fewer than 40,000 left in the wild.

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Keeper Josie Montgomery said it was also important to highlight the important work the Dubbo zoo – and many others across the region – is doing to preserve the iconic animals.

“They’re suffering in the wild,” Miss Montgomery said.

“There’s about 35,000 Asian elephants left and that’s due to human-elephant conflict, poaching and also habitat loss.

“The regional breeding program started up in 2006 and we’ve had some pretty big successes. We’ve had two calves born here at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.”

The first Asian elephant born at the Dubbo zoo, Sabai, is now almost two years old, and two months ago he was joined by cousin Kanlaya.

“He’s a very special little guy,” Miss Montgomery said.

“And Kenlaya … she’s growing big, she’s a very confident, strong calf.

“Also in the region we’ve had nine successful births so it has been a very successful breeding program and we’re hoping to obviously do more.”

The Dubbo zoo – along with Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Melbourne Zoo and Auckland Zoo – are also urging people to adopt the ‘Go Grey for Elephants’ Facebook profile picture frame (which can be downloaded from the zoo’s Facebook page) and use the hash tag #gogreyworldelephantday.

“People can support our conservation programs by coming to World Elephant Day this Sunday,” Miss Montgomery said.

“They can also go onto our website and see the different programs that we support, not just for the Asian elephants but we’re doing a lot for the African elephant as well, all the elephants and all the animals that you see here at the zoo.”