Asian calf Kanlaya has marked her first birthday with a blessing for a long and healthy life.
Thai monk Phra Prasert Eiamruekngam, who was joined by Royal Thai Consul-General Chakkrid Krachaiwong, performed a traditional blessing on Kanlaya and her older cousin Sabai by sprinkling water on their heads. A blessing was also given to the elephant keepers.
While the practice has been undertaken in Taronga Zoo in the past, it's the first time it has been held at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.
Zoo director Steve Hinks said the Asian elephant herd came from Thailand and what better way was there to celebrate their heritage than a blessing for good fortune, good health and success.
"As the breeding program progresses into the future this is something I cant wait to see happen again. This is a very special day," he said.
It was a unique experience for the elephants. Having never seen a Buddhist monk before, or received a blessing, the older elephants were protective of their young. They were slapping their trunks and growling during the ceremony.
"With any good mother there's always a desire to make sure that their children are safe and well. Certainly we saw as a herd them come together and some of those natural reactions you see in the wild as well," Mr Hinks said.
A large crowd witnessed the tradition and shared in Kanlaya's birthday celebrates. There was cake for the human guests while the elephants were given some extra delicious treats.
"That's representative of how much of a hit she's been with our local community, our zoo friends members and our staff and the public alike," Mr Hinks.
Elephant supervisor Glenn Sullivan said both Kanlaya and Sabai play together regularly.
"We've seen them playing in the pool in the warmer months, dust bathing and sometimes napping together on their dirt mound," he said.
Mr Sullivan said the zoo had great success in the past few years with the expansion of the conservation breeding program.
There are eight Asian elephants at Taronga Western Plains Zoo.