Artificial insemination (AI)

Photo © Daryl Hoffman, Houston.

One of the first experiments with artificial insemination was undertaken with the african elephant cow Idunda in Basel Zoo in switzerland. They were unsuccesful.

In 1999 Dr. Dennis Schmitt (extern link), associate professor of veterinary medicine at Southwest Missouri State University, made history by being the first researcher to produce an elephant from artificial insemination. (The Asian elephant Haji in Dickerson Park Zoo, Springfield, U.S.A.).

AI has throughout the last years proven to be succesful with elephants, due to the efforts of Dr. Dennis Schmitt and the IZW (Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research in Berlin) crew: Dr. T. Hildebrandt, Dr. F. Göritz, Dr. R. Hermes and Dr. G. Fritsch. But this metod is very expensive, and has its drawbacks, why most facilities in the future will concentrate their efforts to establish a self supporting captive elephant population.

In 1998, two of the Indianapolis Zoo’s female African elephants, Kubwa and Ivory, became pregnant through artificial insemination (AI). They were the world’s first African elephants to become pregnant through AI!

In 2001 the female african Sabi gave birth to the male african calf Abu in Vienna Zoo, Austria. The semen was collected from the bull Tembo in Colchester Zoo, England, this was the first time in europe that artificial insemination in elephants resulted in pregnancy.

In the future, probably only Zoo bred elephants will be exhibited in Zoos, since it is difficult to import wild elephants from africa and Asia. India, for example, prohibited trading of wild elephants 1977, but captive elephants born under domestication are traded. An import of 7 african elephants from Botsawana/South africa 1999 to europe resulted in extreme negative critic from welfare organisations, why african elephant imports will probably also be rare, although some african populations has grown to such numbers that thousand of elephants has to be culled.

Therefore, each fertile individual is expremely important, and in some situations, an artificial insemanination is the only way to breed the animal, who othervise may become to old before a natural breeding may takes place. In other cases, some Zoos may avoid to keep bulls, but still want to breed their female elephants.

So far, 50 elephants has been born by AI since 1999, 30 males, and 15 females. The next step is now to select the semen, in order to avoid the birth of too many bulls in captivity.

Sex ratio of elephant babies produced with Artificial insemination
 Males  30 / 50 
 Females  15 / 50 
 Unknown  5 / 50 

There is 22 bull elephants with AI offspring in the database.

(Show ALL - only africans - only asians
OffspringNameSpeciesOriginBirth dateDeath dateParents
1 babiesAlbertEMcaptive-born1998-11-29livingCalvin (Chanda) x Lilly (Israela)
1 babiesSamsonEMcaptive-born1998-05-04livingCalvin (Chanda) x Kitty (Mookee)
1 babiesDocEMcaptive-born1997-05-08livingCharlie x Alana
1 babiesNgam (Chipati, Chapati)EMcaptive-born1994-08-19livingMotek x Aviva
4 babiesRajaEMcaptive-born1994-01-19living x Shree
3 babiesEmmett (Tundi)EMcaptive-born1991-07-10livingIndy (Butch) x Romani
1 babiesLimboLAcaptive-born1991-01-13livingYossi x Lara
2 babiesAliLAwild1991living x
1 babiesCalvin (Chanda)EMcaptive-born1986-08-11livingBandara x Kamala
3 babiesTemboLAwild1983living x
1 babiesSolomonLAwild1983† 2008-02-05 x
2 babiesMaclean (Mac)LAwild1982living x
7 babiesBulwagiLAcaptive-born1981-03-03livingPeter x Mama
1 babiesDaleLAwild1978 x
1 babiesAkunEM1977living x
8 babiesJack (Jackson)LAwild1976living x
3 babiesBong SuEMwild1974-08-03living x
1 babiesSneezyEMwild1973living x
1 babiesTusko (Sobik)EMwild1971living x
1 babiesRex (Bimbo, Barney)EMwild1968living x
1 babiesOnyx (Big Mac)EMwild1962† 2002-05-22 x
2 babiesSteve (wild)LAwildliving x

50 Elephants born through artificial insemination

OriginAgeBirthDeath dateParentsArrivalPresent or last Location
captive-born 0 years2014-05-05Steve (wild) x Five2014-05-05West Midland Safari Park
captive-born 0 years2014-03-04Raja x Noor Jahan2014-03-04Twycross Zoo
captive-born 1 years2013-09-04Steve (wild) x Tonga (Rambo)2013-09-04Vienna Zoo (Tiergarten Schönbrunn)
captive-born 1 years2013-08-05Samson x Bluebonnet2013-08-05Fort Worth Zoo
captive-born 1 years2013-07-28Raja x Bua2013-07-28Kolmarden Zoo (Kolmardens djurpark)
+ -Sanook-EM
captive-born < 1 1 years2013-01-172013-12-03Bong Su x Num-Oi2013-01-17Royal Melbourne Zoological Park
captive-born 2 years2012-07-20Limbo x NDala2012-07-20ZooParc de Beauval
+ -noname-LA
captive-born < 1 2 years2012-07-06?2012-07-06? x MBili (Mbli)2012-07-06ZooParc de Beauval
captive-born 2 years2012-06-28Jack (Jackson) x Ivory2012-06-28Indianapolis Zoo
+ -stillborn-EM
captive-born < 1 2 years2012-03-252012-03-25Raja x Tara2012-03-25Twycross Zoo
captive-born 3 years2011-08-25Ali x Vasha2011-08-24Disneys Animal Kingdom
captive-born 3 years2011-07-20Jack (Jackson) x Kubwa2011-07-20Indianapolis Zoo
+ -aborted-EM
captive-born < 1 3 years20112011Raja x Chandrika2011-00-00Woburn Safari Park
-Pathi Harn-EM
captive-born 4 years2010-03-10Bong Su x Porntip2010-03-10Taronga Zoo
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 4 years2010-02-242010-02-24Jack (Jackson) x Opal2010-02-24Colchester Zoo
captive-born 4 years2010-01-16Bong Su x Chaba (Dokkoon)2010-01-15Royal Melbourne Zoological Park
captive-born 5 years2009-11-02Rex (Bimbo, Barney) x Natasha2009-11-02African Lion Safari
captive-born 5 years2009-09-02Albert x Rozie (Rozana)2009-09-02Albuquerque Biological Park
captive-born 5 years2009-08-10Jack (Jackson) x Christi2009-08-10Hogle Zoo (Salt City Zoo)
+ -Ganesh Vijay-EM
captive-born 2 years2009-08-062011-04-13?Emmett (Tundi) x Noor Jahan2009-08-06Twycross Zoo
+ -Lil Girl-LA
captive-born < 1 2 years2009-07-062009-07-07Jack (Jackson) x Asali2009-07-06Overton Park Zoo (Memphis Zoological Garden & Aquarium)
-Barack (Rocky)-EM
captive-born 5 years2009-01-19Doc x Bonnie2012-00-00Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation
+ -fetal death-LA
captive-born < 1 5 years2008-10-282008-10-28Jack (Jackson) x Dottie2008-10-27Atlanta Zoo
+ -miscarriage-EM
captive-born < 1 5 years2008-08-142008-08-14Sneezy x Chai2008-08-14Woodland Park Zoo
captive-born 6 years2008-06-28Jack (Jackson) x Moyo2013-05-15National Elephant Center U.S.A.
+ -Scotty-LA
captive-born 3 years2007-03-182010-05-12Jack (Jackson) x Mikki2007-03-18Louisville Zoo
-Khun Plai-EM
captive-born 7 years2007-03-07Ngam (Chipati, Chapati) x Kod2007-03-07Thai National Elephant Institute (Thai Elephant Conservation Center, TECC)
+ -JP-EM
captive-born 4 years2006-12-122010-06-22Tusko (Sobik) x Rosie2006-12-12Have Trunk Will Travel (Gary and Kari Johnson)
captive-born 8 years2006-08-31Ali x Ivory2006-08-31Indianapolis Zoo
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 8 years2006-02-102006-02-10 x Genny C (Timba)2006-02-25Seneca Park Zoo
captive-born 8 years2006-02-04Tembo x Drumbo2011-08-11Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium
-Gabi (Boon-Chooi)-EM
captive-born 9 years2005-12-11Emmett (Tundi) x Kwunjai (Tamar)2010-10-06Gaziantep Zoo
captive-born 9 years2005-10-18Bulwagi x Kubwa2005-10-18Indianapolis Zoo
captive-born 9 years2005-10-17Bulwagi x Ellie2012-00-00Birmingham Zoo
+ -Noname-LA
captive-born < 1 9 years2005-05-132005-05-13Bulwagi x Ibala2005-05-13Disneys Animal Kingdom
+ -stillborn-EM
captive-born < 1 9 years2004-07-012004-07-01Emmett (Tundi) x Delhi (Delina)2004-07-01Usti nad Labem Zoo
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 9 years2003-11-242003-04-07Bulwagi x Robin2003-11-24Disneys Animal Kingdom
+ -Tufani-LA
captive-born 11 years2003-05-222014-01-00Maclean (Mac) x Moyo2013-05-15National Elephant Center U.S.A.
captive-born 11 years2003-04-30Bulwagi x Renee (Mbili)2003-04-30Toledo Zoo
+ -Xixi-EM
captive-born 2 years2003-04-302005-12-26Akun x Jing Sheng2003-04-30Xian Qinling Zoological Park
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 2 years2003-03-212003-03-21Bulwagi x Misha2003-03-21Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Six Flags Marine World)
captive-born 12 years2002-12-06Tembo x Tanya2009-06-03Dvur Kralove Zoo
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 12 years2002-09-282002-09-28Solomon x Tika2002-09-28Six Flags Discovery Kingdom (Six Flags Marine World)
+ -stillborn-LA
captive-born < 1 12 years2002-07-272002-07-27Bulwagi x Rafiki2002-07-27Toledo Zoo
captive-born 13 years2001-11-25Calvin (Chanda) x Shanthi2001-11-25Smithsonian National Zoological Park
captive-born 13 years2001-04-25Tembo x Sabi2006-07-20Halle Zoo
captive-born 14 years2000-08-04Maclean (Mac) x Ivory2011-05-12Birmingham Zoo
+ -Amali-LA
captive-born 3 years2000-03-062003-06-03Dale x Kubwa2000-03-06Indianapolis Zoo
+ -Haji-EM
captive-born 3 years1999-11-282002-06-07Onyx (Big Mac) x Moola1999-11-28Dickerson Park Zoo
+ -miscarriage-LA
captive-born 3 years2012-03-17 x GinaOverton Park Zoo (Memphis Zoological Garden & Aquarium)

18 elephants mentioned in the database with association to AI

OriginAgeBirthDeath dateParentsArrivalPresent or last Location
captive-born 16 years1998-11-29Calvin (Chanda) x Lilly (Israela)2003-11-19Albuquerque Biological Park
captive-born 16 years1998-05-04Calvin (Chanda) x Kitty (Mookee)2003-11-19Albuquerque Biological Park
-Noor Jahan-EM
captive-born 19 years1995-11-24 x 1998-04-17Twycross Zoo
captive-born 20 years1994-10-29Vance (Matt) x Sid (Sue)Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus (Blue Unit)
-Chaba (Dokkoon)-EM
captive-born 21 years1993 x 2006-11-06Royal Melbourne Zoological Park
wild 22 years1992 x 2007-06-19Rhenen Zoo (Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen)
wild 23 years1991 x 2003-08-21Lowry Park Zoo
wild 25 years1989 x 2009-10-03San Diego Safari Park (San Diego Wild Animal Park)
wild 25 years1989 x 2003-08-21Lowry Park Zoo
wild 30 years1984 x 2003-11-24Disneys Animal Kingdom
+ -Kiba (Chupa)-LA
wild 27 years19822009-12-17 x 1995-04-15Nashville Zoo
wild 32 years1982 x 1998-02-28Colchester Zoo
wild 32 years1982 x 2003-04-18Lowry Park Zoo
-Genny C (Timba)-LA
wild 37 years1977 x 1979-05-29Seneca Park Zoo
wild 38 years1976 x 1992-11-12Smithsonian National Zoological Park
wild 38 years1976 x 1978-03-06Indianapolis Zoo
-Bong Su-EM
wild 40 years1974-08-03 x 1977-02-01Royal Melbourne Zoological Park
+ -Idunda-LA
wild 37 years19511988-01-16 x 1956-00-00Basel Zoo


Brown, J.L., and Schmitt, D.L. The unusual anatomy and reproductive physiology of the elephant, and challenges with developing artificial insemination. Science India 7:9 & 10 pp 27-32 (2004).

Brown, J. L., Goritz, F, Pratt-Hawkes, N., Hermes, R., Galloway, M., Graham, L. H., Gray, C., Walker, S. L., Gomez, A., Moreland, R., Murray, S., Schmitt, D. L., Howard, J., Lehnhardt, J., Beck, B., Bellem, A., Montali, R., and Hildebrandt, T. B. Successful artificial insemination of an Asian elephant at the National Zoological Park. Zoo Biology 23[1], 45-63. 2004.

Dahl, N.J., Olson, D., Schmitt, D.L., Blasko, D.R., Kristipati, R.S., and Roser, J.F. Development of an Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) in the Elephant (Loxodonta africana and Elephas maximus) Zoo Biology 23:65-78 (2004)

In addition to his many journal publications Dr. Schmitt has also authored several book chapters, including the following:

Schmitt D. Reproductive System. In: Biology, Medicine, and Surgery of Elephants. Blackwell Publishing. In Press.

Schmitt D.L. Under the Big Top. Why elephants belong in circuses. In: Ethics of Elephants in Captivity. C. Cristen ed. John Hopkins University Publishing. In Press.

Schmitt, D. Ultrasonography of Elephants In: Health Care, Breeding and Management of Asian Elephants. Editor. Dharmeswar Das. Published by College of Veterinary Medicine, Khanapara, Guwahati, Assam, India (2003)

Schmitt, D., Probisdidea (Elephants) In: Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 5th edition. Fowler and Miller. Saunders publishing, St. Louis, Missouri. Chapter 53: 541-549. 2003

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