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Chester Zoo 1978 hybrid elephant

Discussion in 'United Kingdom' started by bongorob, 15 Feb 2015.

  1. bongorob

    bongorob Well-Known Member

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  2. kiang

    kiang Well-Known Member Premium Member

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  3. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    Many thanks, Rob, for posting the link to this interesting website.

    Re the quote:-

    "...Motty was subsequently preserved as a taxiderm specimen and has been held ever since in the vast stores of London's Natural History Museum, but he has never been publicly displayed, which is a great shame, because such an extraordinary animal would surely attract considerable attention and interest...."

    Whilst it is, indeed, a great shame that “Motty” is not currently on show at the Natural History Museum, the comment that “he has never been publicly displayed” is not true; he certainly was on exhibit at the museum thirty-odd years ago; I saw him there several times.
     
  4. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    They may have Motty off show to preserve him for science. As interesting as it would be, Motty is one of a kind, there will likely never be another animal like him, and you don't want a specimen that valuable to get damaged.
     
  5. Safari Stone

    Safari Stone Member

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    One interesting conclusion (I've found a very small bit of evidence supporting it, though. ) is that this could have possibly happened in the wild- in early Pleistocene times. Ernest P. Walkers Mammals of the World says that Loxodonta was found in the Middle East several thousand years ago, as was Elephas.
     
  6. MikeG

    MikeG Well-Known Member

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  7. Safari Stone

    Safari Stone Member

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    Shuker's idea of Motty paralleling the Columbian Mammoth is very interesting. If another hybrid ( s ) are born in the future, one could imagine them being used to restore the mammoths!

    I brought up this idea on my website some last year on the subject of the extinct American Camel.
    Be warned: Inside are some scientific opinions on hybrids that not everyone may agree w/.
    Scroll down to the "Camas" paragraph.

    stoneswild: October 2014
     
  8. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    I first visited the NHM on August 15th 2005 - and he was on exhibit then! Visited again the following year, and he was not.
     
  9. Campbell89

    Campbell89 Well-Known Member

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    I may have missed something but why was/is motty unique? I appreciate that he was te only known hybrid elephant but what's to say it can't happen again aside from it being frowned upon?
     
  10. lamna

    lamna Well-Known Member

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    Firstly it's hard enough to get elephants to breed anyway, dealing with bulls, and the long pregnancy.

    Secondly, herpes is a big killer of baby Asian elephants and it seems to spread when African elephants (who are more resistant to herpes) are mixed with Asian ones. It's one of the main reasons that's become rare these days.

    Anyone who's got the time, money and facilities to breed elephants is going to only be breeding one species.
     
  11. Chlidonias

    Chlidonias Moderator Staff Member

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    being the "only known hybrid elephant" is the reason he is unique. That's sort of the definition of unique....
     
  12. Campbell89

    Campbell89 Well-Known Member

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    Double post.
     
    Last edited: 18 Feb 2015
  13. Campbell89

    Campbell89 Well-Known Member

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    Maybe unique was the wrong word to use. What I'm trying to say is yes he was the only hybrid however in theory another hybrid could be produced, putting aside the points mentioned by Lamna of course. Although I agree that anyone with the abilities to breed elephants shouldn't hybridise them.
     
  14. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    Chester proved this was possible, although they didn't do it deliberately of course, in fact I think they believed there was never a chance of a fertile cross- mating happening between the two species.

    Technically it might well be possible to produce another one, but as pointed out above, nowadays most Zoos only keep one or other species, or if both (increasingly rare in zoos) the groups are seperate. The ingredients present at Motty's conception vi; Asian cows, African Bull (with no Asian male present at the time) are unlikely to be repeated, hence him being a unique production. From memory, his surprise birth was largely overlooked in scientific circles, and after his death he soon seemed largely forgotten. His legacy is that he seems to have aroused increasingly more interest in recent years than at the time.
     
  15. SHAVINGTONZOO

    SHAVINGTONZOO Well-Known Member

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    But the two species are of different genera which makes the hybridisation even more scientifically significant.

    And isn't the "well it could happen again" argument a bit like saying "Mozart wasn't that special - somebody might come along in the future and write sublime concertos, symphonies, operas etc etc etc by the age of 27"? :) :)
     
  16. Campbell89

    Campbell89 Well-Known Member

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    I suppose, I may have come across unimpressed (for want of a better word) however I do agree he was a wonder of the zoological world and it is a shame he was largely forgotten.

    It would have been incredible to see him as an adult whether he was infertile or not. I wonder if the diuretic drugs given to Sheba when they didn't realise she was pregnant contributed to a premature birth.
     
  17. jbnbsn99

    jbnbsn99 Well-Known Member

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    I wrote several concerti and symphonies by age 27. Does that make me special?
     
  18. Tim May

    Tim May Well-Known Member Premium Member

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    That’s very interesting, Dave.

    I saw the African elephant x Asiatic elephant hybrid “Motty” at the Natural History Museum a number of times; as mentioned in my earlier post, though, this was many years ago (before the elephants were moved to their current “home” the Ungulate Gallery in the old Whale Hall).

    Whereabouts in the museum was “Motty” exhibited when you saw him in 2005? I definitely didn’t see him at the museum as recently as ten years ago.

    The point is, though, that the comment in the article that this specimen has never been exhibited at the museum is incorrect. I wish he would be put back on display again.
     
  19. TeaLovingDave

    TeaLovingDave Moderator Staff Member

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    Don't actually recall all that clearly - not sure he was in the main ungulate hall, though. I didn't realise what I had seen at the time, just thought he was a particularly badly stuffed elephant :p
     
  20. Pertinax

    Pertinax Well-Known Member

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    How do you know it was him then....?;)