Friday, 17 August 2012

Zoo elephant conceived with wild male's frozen sperm


An embryonic African elephant has been photographed in the womb - the result of pioneering artificial insemination by an Austrian zoo.
The Schoenbrunn Zoo in Vienna says it is the first successful use of frozen sperm from a wild African bull elephant to impregnate a female in captivity.
An ultrasound image from Operation Frozen Dumbo shows the foetus with developing trunk and legs.
The mother is nine months into her pregnancy, expected to last 22 months.
Taken in April, the image has only now been revealed. The infant's sex is not yet known.
Tonga, 26, has given birth once before.
The sperm used to impregnate her came from a wild bull elephant in South Africa, which was drugged so that an ejaculation could be induced. An instrument called an electro-ejaculator was used to collect the semen.
Artificial insemination using sperm that is frozen and then thawed has worked in other mammals, including endangered rhinos. But the method has proven particularly tricky with elephants.

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