When the five, newly-imported Asian elephants moved into the recently-opened Wild Asia Precinct (another Jackson Teece project), the heritage Elephant Temple and Paddock which opened when the Zoo re-located to its current site in 1916 was ear-marked for another master-planned function.

The arrival of Gung - the sole male (bull) elephant - has changed those plans, and now the nearly 100-year association of the elephants with the Temple and Paddock will continue.

A key component of the Taronga Conservation Society Australia and regional zoos breeding program, the new Male Elephant Facility provides accommodation for the bull while providing additional pen and paddock space for the female (cow) elephants who visit Gung as part of the breeding program.

Overall, the combined Male Elephant Facility and Wild Asia Precinct exhibits endeavour to replicate the natural social conditions of the elephant, where adolescent bulls are pushed away from their family herd by the herd’s matriarch.

The new barn’s form was designed to produce a strong, respectful statement contrasting with the heritage Elephant Temple and its golden dome. It is an independent background building with detail references to natural shapes and forms.

The success of the facilities and breeding program is already evident, with three cows giving birth in 2009. The first calf (a male) was born in July 2009.