Safari Park development

Swazi, an African elephant at the San Diego Safari Park is expecting her second calf. Her due date was stated as being late July-early August. WELL, it just so happens to be early August and the calf has not arrived yet. Swazi is the matriarch of the Safari park herd, which currently consists of  twelve elephants (eight of which were born at the park). Earlier this year five of the animals were transferred to the Reid Park zoo in Tucson, Arizona. Mabhulane the breeding bull who has sired all of the park’s calves (including Swazi’s unborn) is one of the five in Arizona.

Vus’Musi, a male born in 2004 to Ndulamitsi, who was pregnant upon arriving from Swaziland; is incredibly valuable in terms of genetics. I have no doubt he will remain at the park where he will breed with the other cows and the two female calves. He seems to be maturing rapidly and is actually being chased out of the herd by the cows. He is also learning the ropes of how to become a bull from resident bull Msholo.

Frozen Jumbo

Rungwe a male African elephant was born to mom N’dala on the 20th of July, at zoo parc de Beauval.
This calf was the first African elephant to be born in Europe in 2012. He is also the first to be born through artificial insemination with a wild bull as the sire. The ‘frozen jumbo’ project to maximize the genetic diversity in captivity is about to become a reality in the U.S. as well, with genetic material awaiting shipment in South Africa. The long term goal of the project is to avoid the need of importing animals from the wild to introduce new genetics. In the U.S. ‘operation frozen jumbo’ 15 bull elephants were tranquilized in South Africa. That is 15 elephants that will eventually be represented in the population with out actually being present in North America.

Image*unfortunately the second female impregnated with the frozen jumbo project at zoo parc de Beauval died while giving birth to her calf.

 

Oklahoma city zoo visit

I visited the okc zoo today… And all I can say is…. Wow. The $13.5 million dollar expansion is gigantic in every sense of the word. EVERYTHING IN THIS EXHIBIT IS HUGE. Including their bull elephant, Rex.

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Christie, all over again…

Christie the elephant at the Hogle zoo is soon to have her trunk full. By soon I mean 22 months… And by full, I mean Zuri, her calf born in 2009, and her soon to be 250 pound bundle of joy. Actually according to the German reproductive specialist who preformed the artificial insemination procedure on Christie, there could be a chance that she conceived twins… Regardless it is almost certain that she did conceive, the odds are actually 90-10 which is higher than natural breeding. Hogle zoo won’t know for sure if their elephant is expecting until the specialist return in five months to check up on Christie. At that point we will also know if she is expecting twins or not!

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From Namibia to Mexico

Nine Namibian African elephant were imported into Mexico on the fifth of June, 2012. 6 females and 3 males, ranging in age from four to ten. The oldest is a male, dubbed ‘Big Boy’ while the youngest is a male named ‘Chico (Little boy).’ Africam Safair is a AZA acredited facility outside of Puebla Mexico. So these animals will be participating in the African elephant SSP.

As all elephant imports are, this event was extremely controversial. The safari park claimed that the elephants were saved from being culled after their parents were killed by poachers. These statements were shot down by officials in Namibia. They say the elephants were sold to the park, and that they came from a facility which has never dealt with poachers…

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Tonka

Tonka is a 33 year old, bull African elephant. He has lived at the Knoxville zoo since 1981. Tonka is a truly massive bull who’s origin is South Africa; he weighs a mind boggling 15,000 pounds and stands 10’4″ at the shoulder. The thing is, the Knoxville exhibit isn’t really that big, and at times Tonka needs to be put in a separate yard from the two females at the zoo. With the females present past breeding age, and Tonka never having shown any interest in breeding with the females, I think it’s safe to say it’s time for Tonka to move on. A keeper recently said in a elephant demonstration that “We are looking for a facility to move Tonka to, so we can bring in a third female and open up the yards of our exhibit.”

But as you may have guess there isn’t exactly an abundance of facilities for 15,000 pound animals… Tonka may be National Elephant Center bound, the facility is scheduled to be completed later this year. Dallas was also built to house a bull elephant, and they have a separate yard that could house him, on show. I guess like most things related to elephants… Time will tell.

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Tonka

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Resident females Jana & Edie

Osh

Osh, a seventeen year old African elephant at the Oakland zoo was imported to the U.S. from Howlett’s wild animal park in the U.K.in 2004. His origins are pretty interesting, so try to keep up with me. Osh is an inbred animal, his father is his mother’s half brother. His mother Shara and father Yossi were both born at the Ramat Gan Zoo in Isreal, where he was conceived. When his mother, Shara was TWENTY months pregnant, she was transferred to Howlett’s where Osh was born in 1994. Sometime after 2006 his mother died of unknown reasons. Osh has fifteen siblings through his father Yossi, four females and eleven males.

Although his lineage may be well, if not over represented in Europe, Osh’s blood line is new to the united states. He has yet to be used in the artificial insemination program, or breed naturally to the two breeding age females at the zoo, Donna and Eloise. He has recently grown too large for the current barn, forcing the zoo to construct him his own personal bull holding facility (which I speculate will include the proper equipment for semen collection). 

The Oakland zoo acquired Osh as a replacement for their previous breeding male, Smokey who died in 2001. He produced five calves,although none of them survived longer than one year. 

I truly hope the zoo breeds it’s two aging females, and finds a way to fit Osh into the nation wide breeding program. The cow’s biological clocks are ticking as one is 35, and the other 32, with the last birth occurring in 2001.

Fingers crossed for Osh, and the Oakland zoo.

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