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Elephant Pregnant After Artificial Insemination

March 04, 2001|From Associated Press

VALLEJO — The experts at Six Flags Marine World don't know if the baby will be a boy or a girl--but they do know it will be big.

Tests have confirmed that Tika, a 23-year-old African elephant, is pregnant, the amusement park said Friday. And park officials say the biggest news is how Tika got pregnant.

"This is an exciting day for us," said David Blasko, the park's director of animal operations and its elephant training supervisor for more than two decades.

"A pregnant elephant is big news by itself. And the success of the new artificial insemination procedure brings renewed hope for the long-term future of elephants in zoos and in the wild."

In a rare procedure, Tika was artificially inseminated in December using semen collected from male elephants at Lion Country Safari in West Palm Beach, Fla., and at the Kansas City Zoo.

African elephants are an endangered species, and experts worry that their future in zoos is in trouble as the current population ages and can't be replaced from the wild.

If all goes well, Tika's 250-pound baby will be delivered late next year. The elephant birth would be the first in the park's 33-year history.

The pregnancy was confirmed by ultrasound, which revealed the mouse-sized embryo.

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