Smithsonian National Zoological Park l Friends of the National Zoo



Diagnosing and Monitoring Pregnancy in Elephants

After conception, the hormone progesterone in elephants stays elevated for about 22 months. Progesterone helps to maintain the pregnancy.

Measuring serum prolactin after five to six months can also help determine if an elephant is pregnant.

Elephant progesterone levels drop three to five days before an elephant gives birth or goes into labor so keepers and veterinarians are prepared for the impending birth.