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trouble with breeding elephants

Discussion in 'General Zoo Discussion' started by jay, 18 Apr 2005.

  1. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    There is a real good breeding herd of Asian elephants in Cambridge in Canada they have around 12 animals in there herd and are breeding them quite well, I got a tour off exibit from Charlie Gray who is the Manager of the herd, he had about four full grown Bull elephants, I saw there latest baby which was only two weeks old then.

    They have a HUGE lake in which they swim every day in summer, it'd great watching them swimming in such a big lake like that.

    They shut down in winter but still seem to thrive there.

    Mark :)
     
  2. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    multiple bulls

    i think its good to hear of a facility that keeps not only a herd of females, but multiple males as well. i was hoping that melbourne was going to build bull facilities for more than one bull but it seems they haven't.

    i believe the "competition factor" of keeping more that one adult male would be quite helpful in stimulating the bulls into breeding behaviour.
     
  3. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    Elephant bulls

    Thats right Patrick, more males are better in a breeding herd, I have also seen this factor in some of the English zoo's were they have back up males.

    Another factor in breeding Elephants in zoo's is if you only have one male breeding in a herd and he dies like the big male African Elephant at the Toronto zoo, your breeding program comes to a sharp hate so more than one male in a heard is the way to go.
     
  4. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    Toronto Zoo elephants

    Interesting to see that Toronto Zoo had a breeding plan ( and could resume it when they get another male ) for African elephants . Canada can get quite chilly on summer nights ( minus 6 degrees celcius ) and I would hate to think what Winters are like !
    From what I gather ,African elephants are much harder to keep in captivity , so if Toronto has had previous successes with breeding them , they should certainly be encouraged to get a new bull or two , and resume the programme
    I happened to be reading their website last night , but they dont have that much in the way of information about the animlas that they have got .
    It appears that they are concentrating on African elephants ( there was no mention of Asian elephants at the zoo ) :)
     
  5. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    african elephants in australia

    dubbo zoo originally had a crack at breeding african elephants, but with the death of the bull about some years ago, the zoo decided not to attempt to aquire another bull - instead it was too busy focusing on plans for asian elephants.

    i imagine the 3 female african elephants at dubbo are now too old to breed.
    though apparently there is a 20 year old female african elephant in a circus in NZ.
     
  6. MARK

    MARK Well-Known Member

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    Dubbo zoo

    Patrick, Western plains zoo imported four African Elephants from longleat safari park just before it opened in 1977, 1 male and 3 females, the male was called David, some years later they imported another male and female from the US. I saw them there just after it opened.

    The male from the US I think was called Congo and was one of the baby Elephants in that 1960's movie Harati with John Wayne, who was shipped to the US after making that movie along with the two females, I had heard he became the largest African male in captiviy, one of the females went on to live in the San Deigo zoo and then the San Deigo wild animal park were she had bred.

    I am not sure when the first male died in Dubbo but I did see Congo before he died and must say he was huge. its a shame they never bred, maybe a bigger group from the start would of helped like it did at the Toronto zoo who started with 1 male and 8 females!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Mark
     
  7. Paul Scott

    Paul Scott Member

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    Europe

    Just to clear a point.
    here in the UK we have a number of zoos and safari parks that keep elephants. A lot have problems with breeding but a significant number have had repeated successes (Chester, Knowsley Safari Park and Howlett's among others).
    What is interesting is that the zoos that have had successful births (and Chester has the first third generation zoo born elephant in Europe) do not limit the time the elephants spend outdoors in the fairly cold, wet and snowy winters. Indeed the elephants are left to decide whether they will go out themselves and the doors are only closed in the evenings.
    There is no more pleasurable sight than watching a baby elephant "catching" snow with their trunks.
     
  8. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    elephant sanctuary in Malaysia

    http://www.journeymalaysia.com/MR_ecenter1.htm

    I have not been to this place , but it looks to have potential . I aint saying that there are no problems ( I am sure there are , of elephant size proportions )
    I feel that there should be more emphasis on this sort of place , or the elephant sanctuary in Tennessee USA , rather than Taronga zoo getting 5 new elephants
     
  9. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Nigel,

    The Elephant Sanctuary does nothing for the conservation of the species. It only maintains a repository of elderly elephants off exhibit. Now, what could be the value in that? I would wish more of these animal welfarers would wake up to the world and realise in that manner we are not going to save too many species. But perhaps that is just their goal, I do not know!

    If we really want to secure a future for elephants in our world, we must conserve their last natural habitats effectively and set up breeding centers for them in captivity with an aim of eventual reintroduction to the wild (for this should be the final goal to get them off the endangered list). The ex situ breeding projects serve both to nurture the public and educate about the plight of elephants and our god given duty to conserve for posterity. So my advice; go get up and give something back to in situ conservation (in money, kind and/or goods)! For suggestions look at the IUCN Asian elephant specialists site.
     
  10. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    the elephant sanctuary

    jelle,

    the "value" of the elephant sanctuary is that it provides a home (one that many would argue the best in the world mind you) for abused, often elderly, female elephants.

    yet you argue that they do nothing for the conservation of the species, as if they need to do more than that to justify their reason for being!

    firstly, the america needs sanctuaries such as this. there are hundreds apon hunderds of elephants in that country - most in their later years, most female and like most elephants in circus' and zoos, pretty miserable lives. without places like this there would be nowhere to retire any of these animals. they would die under the same, often dreadful conditions that they have lived in most of their lives.

    so what if, being a non-profit, privately owned facility they don't have enough money to put into elephant conservation? unlike zoos, the elephant sanctuary doesn't pretend that conservation is is core purpose. its core purpose is providing a home for otherwise homeless animals, many who have come from neglected environments in zoos, who in turn probably pretended they did it in the name of conservation.

    in addition to this i'll tell you one thing they also do. the elephant sanctuary illustrates to people the sharp contrast between the way most zoos keep their elephants and how an elephant can be kept in captivity.

    and that good enough for me!
     
  11. ZooPro

    ZooPro Well-Known Member

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    Here here Patrick! Perfectly stated, in my opinion....
     
  12. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    response from Nigel

    I appreciate that anyone can make comments on this forum , and I thank Jelle for doing so , even if we may be on opposite ends of the playing field from time to time .
    The idea of having a large area like this , with keepers , and some educational element in the human interaction ( tourist visits ) has the potential to be what is really needed for elephant survival if they are really endangered due to diminishing habitat .
    While elderly female elephants may not contribute much to elephant conservation , this pace doesnt need to be solely an elderly female elephant resthome . I bet their enclosures are larger than the elephant enclosures in regional zoos , and they certainly have heaps more room than , say , the new elephant complex at Taronga park zoo , or Aucklands zoo , or any other city zoo . The enclosures may even be larger than some open range zoo .
    It cant be too hard to introduce a variety of elephants of various age/sex and encourage breeding of appropriate animals ( obviously , not the elderly females )
    Again , as I have never seen this place , I cannot vouch that it is a great place for elephants . There may well be problems . But from what I have read in its website , I think it has potential , and that is my important word .

    Once again , I have the highest regard for Jelle , and appreciate his views
     
  13. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    firstly nigel you have awoken an issue i have never thought much about.
    is jelle a guy? i always kinda figured he/she was a girl. maybe its the name. geez, now ya got me thinkin! zuki-pah is a girl right? i always imagined she was a japanese girl!

    ha ha ha.... never thougt bout that before!!

    anyhow, when the proposal was put forth for a elephant sanctuary here in victoria, i had my hope set on it being open to the public. i figured, without the distraction from other animals, it would give the orginasation the opportunity to do some serious elephant conservation lobbying to its visitors. since the elephants in these types of places come from performing in circus' or living in zoos, they are hardly going to be particuarly stressed by being open to the public. not if they are given huge amounts of space to roam.

    the idea of such a facility doubling as a breeding center is tempting - however i can fully understand why the elephant sanctuary in the states has a no-breeding policy. they are a non-profit retrement facility created with the core mission of rescuing animals neglected in zoos and circus'. they are largely opposed to the way these institutions care for these creatures. the last thing they would want to do is breed more and take up valuable resources doing as such that could go to needier animals. despite being the largest captive elephant facility in the world, if every elephant in need of "retirement" in the US was sent there, they wouldn't have enough room. nontheless they lobby certain zoos to donate their animals to them and they provide an excellent job at caring for them. they have attracted world-wide attention for the good work they do.

    if people or zoos want to breed elephants - well its up to them to create the right sort of environment for that. by all means look at the elephant sanctuary for inspiration, but i respect their status as a place dedicated to the sole purpose of being kind to some very beautiful animals who have been neglected for far too long. i hope they always maintain that stance, since i think they are doing a great job of raising peoples expectations of good elephant care.
     
  14. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    hay guys, yes Zoo_Boy gonna have some imput

    the 2 main sanctuaries in the us firstly provide a home for elephants, but the tennesse one, houses only females, and is not open to public, the other in california is a home for many animals, mainly eles, but it houses males and likes to breed them if they can

    i carnt wait for a sanctuary in oz, although our open zos with eles- dubbo, are doing great job, i always thought it would be a fantastic place to house the 6 NSW asian circus girls, and they would gbe great company for burma, the only prob dubbo would then have a whopping 11 eles, so government assistance, or even that from circus would make this a great prospect

    how many eles are ready for retirment, i no of 6 in nsw, (stated in Daily telegraph some months ago) and another elephant (i think african) in new zealand, which was proposed to come to dubbo, whts the story with other states
     
  15. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    i have no idea how many elephants there are in cuircus' here Zoo_Boy (aka zoounderscoreboy!:)). i know the last living ashton's elephant, gigi, ended up at startdust circus with arna, putting an end (albeit a somewhat temporary one) to the much publicised lawsuit that surrounded her. personally, i dont think there are (fortunately) enough elephants in circus' here in australia to be worthwhile investing millions in creating a sanctuary for. in a decade or so one would expect most of those animals to have died and thus the sanctuary would cease to be able to operate as such anyway.
    that is unless they had ARAZPA accreditation and some sort of arrangement to continue to maintain elephants within the asian elephant breeding program, but that seems unlikely.

    that said - circus' elephant facilities usually consist of little more than a few chains, some eletric wires and a often decrepid trailer, with or without a tarpaulin for shade! so one would expect that it wouldn't take much to improve on that. but for the sorts of facilities the animals deserve.....

    instead, i am all for animals being "retired" within our open-range zoological parks, dubbo being the obvious choice. that way, the facilities are likely to be likely to be utilised even after their deaths.
     
  16. Zoo_Boy

    Zoo_Boy Well-Known Member

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    i totally agree, and i beleive all of wht ya said, including pacement in zoos, but for dubbo example, with space and already internationally reconised, unlike werribee, but monarto does have an elephant barn, for dubbo to take on say another 6 elephants it would be very finacially strapping, i mean wow 11 elephants, but with the correct finacing i belive that would be the best opp.

    so i think it would be great, although if the chance arose to crate a sanctuary, with enough space, we could then utilise, as you say, the area if the older generation became deceased, to house new animals in a breeding area.

    but again with Housing CIRCUS eles, what wuld be done with other circus animals, there could be a national outcry to house all the lions and macquaces. i mean it would be great to have one facility, and to think, the monkeys and tigers and lions dont need much really!
     
  17. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    despite all the times i have been bitten, chased, attacked, robbed and even outwitted (i know embarassing) by macaques in my life, i'm actually kinda fond of them in a weird kinda way.

    but yes, i would love to know how many of them (and what else) is housed in all the universities and private zoos and circus' in australia.
     
  18. patrick

    patrick Well-Known Member

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    DANG, i'll be damned. zookeeper! zoo-kee-paah.

    i'll still shorten in to zuki (and imagine you as a japanese girl) if thats okay ;)
     
  19. Kifaru Bwana

    Kifaru Bwana Well-Known Member

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    Guys+girls,

    Well, Jelle is actually .... a guy that is. Anyhow, patrick and Nigel I seem to have struck a chord here. I agree with you all that the elderly elephant issue is one that has shamelessly been neglected in zoo circles and circusses. But, what I meant is that most of the time the sanctuary facilities are off-exhibit (and do not give people the opportunity to visit ... that would be something) and thus have not much educational value for people - to give them pointers to the central issue: better conservation outlook for elephants in the wild and creation of non consumptive breeding populations in zoos (without need for imports from the wild).

    In Europe zoos - though on the face of it no better than anywhere else - thankfully have established a policy that gives individual zoos an option; either intitiate breeding or become a safe house for elderly ageing elephants. Thus zoos have taken on that responsibility for themselves. On top of that, EEP zoos regularly also take in surplus - I HATE THAT WORD - elephants off circusses.

    I only wish that zoos (AND zoo associations) on other continents would follow suit and take on the responsibilities they created by housing elephants in the first place. A duty to care and nurture untill they pass away.

    But coming back to the central theme: create self-sustaining breeding populations of elephants in zoos in stead of being just consumptive + promoting in situ conservation of elephants in their natural habitats.
    What I would like to see from some of the sanctuaries is that they would become breeding centers themselves (the Polk City facility in Florida, US is the one breeding elephants mega I think). Given the heaps of space they often have, they can easily fill in 10-25 places for a breeding group with several males. On the other hand, zoos have the natural prerogative to have the attention of the public .. bingo .. and should therefore put it to better use: to educate visitors about their animal and plant life and instill a wildlife conservation responsibility in the zoo going public. And .. repeating myself .. to start breeding elephants in stead of just maintaining for the status quo (the zoo pop will go extinct in 50 years without new recruitment).

    I hope that with the import of new stock to Australia that awareness will finally fruition in Dubbo, Melbourne, Perth and Auckland. Given the wide open spaces that some of the open country zoos have and some forward thinking by the ARAZPA zoos at your end I can only see that elephant populations in zoos will start to grow naturally and become self sustaining. However, still that leaves one zoo to take on the responsibility of housing those elephants that no longer can participate in the breeding programme and need safe selfless quality housing.

    Jelle
     
    Last edited: 19 Jul 2006
  20. Nigel

    Nigel Well-Known Member

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    elephant zoos/sanctuaries

    This is one area which I think Australia could excell in -- if the powers that be could set their mind to it .
    I have flown over alot more of Australia than I have been to , but seeing this vast land from the air , I think large chunks of it would make great elephant sanctuaries -- whether for breeding or not .
    Australias benefits also include a warm climate ( not too different to Asia or Africa ) flat to gentle rolling terrain ( unlike half of NZ that would be totally unsuitable ) and heaps of land -- lots and lots of it !!
    I am well aware that many places are very intensively used and are not suitable for elephants for other reasons ( Mornington Peninsular and Great sandy desert would not be suitable places ) , but surely if you drive from Adelaide to Mildura to Dubbo to Toowoomba to Biloela , I am sure you would find many sites that could be suitable ......