Follow Dr. Fred in his work at the zoo

Monday, April 10, 2006

This weekend off became completely different than planned, as one of the zoos elephants was to be inseminated. To entire procedure turned out to be a longer than expected as the follicle ovulated almost a day later than expected, and there are only 3 elephant bulls in the US (1 in Canada) that have the ability to serve as sperm donors. So in order to accomplish this, an expert (sperm collector) from Florida was flown in, along with 2 German reproductive specialists. All seemed well until our first problem came up: the Department had sent as the wrong permit. They had allowed us to bring sperm from the wrong specie, from a large sea mammal. All thanks due to government cut backs. Maybe they (the government) can wait, but the follicle certainly will not. Then the sample from the first backup bull in the US couldn’t arrive back in time. The third bull delivered some OK samples, but the swimmers kept dieing in transport. So until the elephant is checked by ultrasound in a few months time, who knows how successful this procedure became.
So all in all, I got to go on a roadtrip t to see the sperm collection, and I got to see plenty of insemination procedures here at the zoo. Elephants are wonderful large animals, but their gestation period is the longest of all animals, 22 months. In return, they are over 10 feet tall, and weigh from 8000 -13000 pounds. (female is smaller). I can show the complete picture series of everything later, as this would take way to much space on this site.


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