National Zoo needs help from Tulsa Zoo's male elephant

Friday, March 3rd 2006, 9:27 am
By: News On 6

You might not know this, but Sneezy, the Tulsa Zoo's Asian bull elephant, is considered the most valuable bull in the country for breeding.

He's participating in an artificial insemination attempt with a female at the National Zoo in Washington DC.

As News on 6 reporter Rick Wells tells us, in love as in life, not everything works out as you plan.

Sneezy, is the Tulsa Zoo's 33 year old Asian Bull elephant. Because there are so few Asian bulls in captivity he is much sought after as a breeding partner.

Elephant keeper Jessica Scallan: “he's ranked in the number 1 bracket right now, that's why he's participating in a lot of artificial inseminations throughout the U.S." Currently with the National Zoo in Washington D.C. and their female Asian elephant Shanti. They don't have a suitable male of their own up there, so they came looking for Sneezy, to help them with their program to expand the population.

The Tulsa Zoo was happy to participate, for a number of reasons. Assistant Animal Curator Mike Connolly:"First and foremost is to help the captive population as much as we can." By taking on breeding situations, either natural or artificial.

So that was the plan. Collect a sperm sample each morning and fly it Washington DC. Everyone was on board except Sneezy. Mike Connolly: "It's something he has to choose to allow us to do and there are those days for what ever reason he doesn't feel up to it." So he stepped up on the fence. He said hello. He even pitched some dirt clods. He did all his tricks except, welll, you know.

The National Zoo had a back up plan, they got a sample from a Ringling Brothers bull elephant.

Now I don't know anything about elephants, but Have you ever tried music? Mike Connolly: "No" Candle light? Mike Connolly: "No" Posters? Mike Connolly: "No" Well, dahh.

Here is a bit of good news. They must have changed the technique late Friday afternoon, because a sperm sample is on the way to Washington DC and will be used to artificially inseminate Shanti.

It will be four months before Tulsa Zoo officials will know if the procedure was successful.