Animal Kingdom-Sad News
I got this off the MickeyNews.com website.
After two successful elephant births in the past two years at Disney's Animal Kingdom, veterinarians and elephant managers were deeply saddened Sunday when they determined that the calf of Ibala, a pregnant African elephant, is no longer viable.
The 26-year-old first-time mother went into labor Saturday. Strong initial contractions lessened over the first 24 hours and several unsuccessful attempts were made to induce productive labor.
"This is a time of profound loss for the dedicated team of people who have been working tirelessly during the two year gestation, and particularly since the elephant first began to show signs that the birth was imminent last week," said Dr. Beth Stevens, vice president of Disney's Animal Kingdom. "While this news is extremely disappointing, they are continuing to devote their energy to the health and well being of the mother. That is our main focus going forward."
The staff at Disney's Animal Kingdom, which has more than 100 years of collective elephant management experience, spent a tremendous amount of time preparing for every possible scenario for this pregnancy with the knowledge that African elephant births are often difficult.
Since 1994, there have been 26 African elephant pregnancies in managed care settings and only 11 of those have resulted in healthy calves. One reason is because many of the elephants giving birth in zoos and wildlife parks are first-time mothers -- just as the elephant at Disney's Animal Kingdom is -- and it is not unusual for those elephant mothers to lose their first calf.
Ibala came to Disney's Animal Kingdom in 1997 from the Phoenix Zoo. She became pregnant through artificial insemination on July 24, 2003. In May 23, 2003, Tufani, a male African elephant was born and has become an active part of Disney's Animal Kingdom elephant herd.
Artificial insemination is playing an important role in the effort to breed elephants in North America, particularly because it allows for elephant reproduction at zoos and wildlife parks without having to move animals from one place to another to attempt reproduction naturally. This arrangement is part of the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Elephant Species Survival Plan, a consortium of zoos and wildlife parks working cooperatively to conserve elephants. Disney's Animal Kingdom is expecting another birth later this year.
Disney's Animal Kingdom has a breeding program that is part of a cooperative effort coordinated by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association that is focused on sustaining the elephant population in North America. AZA's Elephant SSP has called for a five-fold increase in African elephant reproduction efforts - using both natural and artificial breeding methods - in order to create a self-sustaining elephant population among North American zoos and wildlife centers.