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North American Asian Elephant Reproduction

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by Elephant Enthusiast, 7 Dec 2017.

  1. Elephantelephant

    Elephantelephant Well-Known Member

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  2. Elephant Enthusiast

    Elephant Enthusiast Well-Known Member

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    The Houston Zoo announced that 29 year old 0.1 Shanti is pregnant and expecting in the Spring of 2020. The sire of the expectant calf is 55 year old 1.0 Thailand.
    Houston Zoo Elephant Herd Growing By One | Houston Zoo News Blog

    The publication of Shanti's pregnancy is phenomenal news as only two, publicly known, Asian elephants in North America are expecting in 2020. In addition, the impending birth is very significant for the North American population as only 17 viable calves have been born since 2014. In contrast, 63 viable calves have born in Europe since 2014. Also, the news of Shanti's pregnancy gives hope to the enhancement of reproductive management for Asian elephants in North America as, on average, Shanti has had a calf every three years, which is the ideal interval between the birth of one calf and another.
     
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  3. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    Ooohhh Houston Zoo, one of the two facilities in NA that's actually doing a good job of managing their elephants. Fingers crossed everything goes smoothly, and Joy will have a new little (hopefully) sister to play with soon enough.
     
  4. Elephantelephant

    Elephantelephant Well-Known Member

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  5. Jaxton

    Jaxton Well-Known Member

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  6. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    Oh wow! Whimpy is 50 years old and this will make her one of, if not THE oldest cow to give birth in North America! She must be in excellent health and condition, as she has had a healthy calf every 4 years (and between her last and this one, 5 years) since 2007!

    Whimpy is probably also the most prolific cow lineage overall in North America, with the birth of her newest calf, she will have a total of 6 living calves, 5 grandcalves, and 2 great grandcalves, the majority of which are females! (4 bulls and 9 cows)
     
    Last edited: 28 May 2020
  7. Elephantelephant

    Elephantelephant Well-Known Member

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    This is truly incredible! I don't realize that a cow at her age would ever have a calf. And not only in North America, but in zoos around the world! The oldest I know of is Warda from Ramat Gan Zoo in Israel, who had a calf at the age of 47. I hope that everything will go smoothly due to her age.
     
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  8. Animals R AMAZING!

    Animals R AMAZING! Active Member

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    Have u guys heard of any more pregnancies?
     
  9. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    The only two confirmed pregnancies right now are Rani at St. Louis and Whimpy at endangered Ark.

    If I had to venture an educated guess, I would also say it is extremely likely that Tess at Houston and Natasha, Opal, and Lily at African Lion Safari are all pregnant as well. Slightly less likely, but Emily at ALS might be preggo again too.

    Maharani at Smithsonian is rumoured to potentially be pregnant as well.

    Rudy and Sundara at Columbus, Rose-Tu at Oregon, and Rozana at ABQ all stand a reasonable chance of being pregnant too.

    I have no proof for this last one, but I have a feeling Tupelo at Houston might potentially be pregnant with her first calf as well. Just call it a hunch.
     
  10. NOVAElephantEnthusiast

    NOVAElephantEnthusiast Active Member

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    As good as all this could be, I feel the last one could not be a possibility. Tupelo is related to all the males that currently reside at the zoo and unless she has been trained for AI (which is unlikely due to her age) I don't believe she would be getting pregnant anytime soon. I feel Houston in the next year or two may be waiting to possibly move some of their older bulls and potentially bring in an unelated male for their younger females and maybe even Shanti.

    On to the Smithsonian, right before they closed due to COVID-19 back in march I did ask about whether or not Maharani was pregnant and was told that she was not. This being said, given her age and the time that has passed since her last pregnancy(10+ years), I find it highly unlikely that she would be able to conceive. I know that her and Spike did have success in the past however like with humans stress can play a big factor on whether or not an elephant can conceive. Given the most recent events at the zoo with the passing of both Ambika and Shanthi it might make it harder for an elephant of her age to get pregnant with all the social changes that could be happening within the zoos herd. On the bright side, when speaking with the keepers they couldn't say much but did say the zoo was looking to procure more elephants once they had the space. With the unfortunate passing of 2 of their 7, I believe that that would now open up that possibility but I do not know where they might get them from.

    I would also like to add some of my own educated guesses to the pool. I'll start with Oklahoma City. Given the interval between her previous pregnancies I'd suggest that Asha is expecting her 3rd calf with Rex. Also speaking with keepers upon my one and only visit, I learned that Chandra will not let Rex breed her. Upon breeding attempts she gets down on her back legs to stop his attempts. Due to this there was talk of training for AI and if all went well I'd be willing to guess we could expect to see a calf from her sometime in the next 2 - 5 years.

    I also believe we can expect to see a calf out of Rosamond Gifford in the next year or two from their cow Kirina. Her last calf which I believe was her first ever was a still birth in 2015 so its a very high possibility that she could have another on in the very near future.
     
  11. Hyak_II

    Hyak_II Well-Known Member

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    Why wouldn't you believe they're trained her for AI? Houston has the best zoo based breeding program in the US right now, and has been very progressive with their breeding rates. Other females (Geetha at Whipsnade, Kulab at Melbourne) have been AI'd at 8 years old with calves at 10, and moreover, Tupelo has proven to be a very maternal young cow, with lots of experience with younger calves. She's also been showing some mammary development lately, which isn't a 100% indicator of pregnancy, but between her age, the facility she's at, and the fact Houston only likes the announce pregnancies a few months before they're due, it's definitely suspect. Although I wouldn't be totally surprised if they do end up sending out Tucker and/or Baylor or bring in a new bull, I feel its more likely they'll hold who they have and just breed from Thai until he dies, since Tupelo is the only one they really need to worry about for the next several years. Both their cow group and bull group are very well structured with good social dynamics right now, and they seem to have the herpes under control, why risk messing it up sending animals in and out, especially with five animals under the age of 10 from a very old under represented founder male right now?
     
    Last edited: 29 Jun 2020
  12. Yassa

    Yassa Well-Known Member

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    When the mamma a nulliparous female elephant starts growing she is most likely pregnant. I observed this many times with many different females and was always right.
     
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  13. NOVAElephantEnthusiast

    NOVAElephantEnthusiast Active Member

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    All very good points, but what leads me to belive she hasn't been trained for AI would be one, her age and two the herd dynamic Houston has set up. American zoos have a trend of waiting till between the ages 10-14 before even attempting to breed their cows. Many people in the industry feel cows should not have their first calf until they are around 13-15 years of age. Unlike their European counterparts it seems most American zoos take a less aggressive approach when it come to Asian Elephant reproduction. Their herd dynamic also because Shanti, Tess and Thailand have no problem when it comes to natural breeding. Unlike many other cows, Tupelo has grown up in a very beneficial herd dynamic. She has grown up as a witness to natural breeding, not only that but she has been around bulls her whole life. She should have no problem with natural breeding herself and does not seem to be afraid of bulls given she has plenty of exposure to her brothers and father. AI isn't cheap, if I remember correctly its can cost anywhere between 100,000 to upwards of close to 1,000,000 dollars a session. I don't think Houston would be willing to pay that cost when they could wait 4-6 more years, retire Thailand and bring in another bull for Tupelo, Shanti and soon after Joy and Tilly. In terms of the herpes virus, bringing in new animals can help build immunity to the virus within their herd. If a specimen is brought in who has been exposed to a strain not yet present in their herd it can be beneficial. An example can be seen with Kandula at OKC, he has been exposed to a strain of the virus that only the recently departed Ambika and a couple other elephants have been known to carry bettering the chances of future calf's building an immunity to it.

    Touching on the bulls aspect real quick, I dont see them moving Tucker unless necessary. If it were needed to move anybody I believe Baylor and Duncan would be moved when they were old enough due to Tuckers ability to be a potential father to Shanti's offspring or even Shanti herself if she would let him breed her. If I'm not mistaken, he is the offspring of I believe Tusko X Tess leaving him unrelated to Shanti and her daughters.
     
  14. Jaxton

    Jaxton Well-Known Member

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  15. Animals R AMAZING!

    Animals R AMAZING! Active Member

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  16. John Marchwick

    John Marchwick Well-Known Member

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  17. Elephantelephant

    Elephantelephant Well-Known Member

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    Endangered Ark Foundation
    Whimpy in Endangered Ark Foundation gave birth to a healthy bull. There are no complications, which is great given her age.:):)