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Assisted Reproduction in Elephants

What Makes an Elephant a Good Candidate

An elephant is a good candidate for artificial insemination if she has the following characteristics:

  • Of reproductive age, maternal
  • Good body and health condition
  • Normal reproductive cycle
  • Receptive to daily and weekly blood draws
  • Responds well to training

How Does It Work?

The female elephant's reproductive tract is long and curved, making the use of ultrasound and other tools very helpful.

Hormone levels are characterized in order to prepare for artificial insemination (AI).

Once the weekly progestgins level off during the follicular phase of an elephant's cycle, blood is collected daily in order to capture the first 24 hour rise in LH.

This surge is used as a three-week notification to prepare for AI during the second ovulatory LH surge.

Fresh sperm is collected from a donor bull and shipped out to the location of female elephant. Unfortunately, techniques for freezing elephant sperm and then thawing it at the opportune moment have not been perfected. Doing so is one of the goals of the Elephant Reproduction Project.

Highly trained professionals use ultrasound and sophisticated equipment to perform artificial inseminations.

Hormone levels are measured continuously to determine pregnancy.
See how.