Melbourne Zoo’s Asian elephants making travel plans

Melbourne Zoo’s Asian elephants making travel plans

Melbourne Zoo’s Asian Elephant herd is learning travel etiquette in preparation for a move to Werribee Open Range Zoo later this year.

The entire herd of nine will make the 40-kilometre journey to a purpose-built home at Werribee Open Range Zoo in bespoke travel crates, each fitted out for the exact needs of their huge passengers, including special crates for the three mother-and-calf pairs.

Lucy Truelson, project officer for Trail of the Elephants at Melbourne Zoo said it is crucial for the mothers and calves to keep close to each other during the move.

“An important philosophy of our elephant management is that we always support and respect the relationship between a mother and her calf. If they are together, they will both be calm and reassured,” Ms Truelson said.

“The calf and mother enter the crate together and will be able to touch each other through a safety partition.”


Throughout the journey they can see each other, touch and communicate while remaining safe and secure.


The entire herd is learning how to travel in the crates during training session held a couple of times a week. The training sessions are made fun for them since they are curious about the crates and keen to explore them.

Keepers reward the elephants’ natural curiosity with all their favourite foods, so it becomes a positive space for them.

“The emphasis is on giving the elephants choice on whether they get in the crate, and then making being in the crate a really positive experience for them so they are really comfortable during their journey,” Ms Truelson said.

While it will be the three calves’ first journey, their keepers are experts and have been planning the entire herd’s move for many years.

The $88 million expansion of Werribee Open Range Zoo funded by the Victorian Labor Government will deliver a world-class destination in Victoria's west and includes the 21-hectare purpose-built Elephant Trail, new pedestrian pathways and improved visitor amenities.

The Werribee Open Range Zoo expansion footprint is the same size as the entire Melbourne Zoo, and the equivalent of five MCG stadiums.

The entire Asian elephant herd is expected to begin its migration from Melbourne Zoo to Werribee Open Range Zoo later this year.

In the meantime, visitors can see the herd along the Trail of the Elephants at Melbourne Zoo and may be able to watch the elephant crate training.

Zoos Victoria thanks The Fox Family for generously donating the crates.

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