The Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna
The zoo officials are very excited. They have been successful at impregnating female elephants before with artificial insemination, but they had not been successful in the past using frozen sperm. The father of the fetus elephant is a wild bull elephant that lives in South Africa. The elephant was tranquilized so that they could get the sperm with no trouble from the bull elephant. Using the frozen sperm is much more desired since they can keep it frozen until a female is ready and is cheaper for the zoo. Impregnating an elephant in captivity with a frozen sperm hadn’t worked before. Using frozen sperm on other animals has worked, but with the elephants, it’s not as easy to do.
Elephants are pregnant for 22 months
Can you imagine being pregnant for 22 months or 2.5 years? The elephant has the longest gestation period of any animal living on land. The African elephant is pregnant for 640 days while the Asian elephant is pregnant for 645 days. When the baby is born, it is called a calf and weighs as much as 115 kg and is more than 75 cm in height. At this time, Tonga is a little past a third of her pregnancy. She is 9 months along. Tonga has had one prior pregnancy. They have taken a ultrasound image of the calf but at this time, they do not have any idea what the sex is. The image shows the baby has a trunk and legs.
Mixing Wild Bull Elephants With Elephants in Captivity
There is hope that gathering the sperm and freezing it from the wild bull elephants in Africa will help enable the elephants living in captivity to survive. It will help strengthen their genes allowing the elephants in captivity to live longer healthier lives.