Monday 20 November 2017

Who’s the Daddy?

It is understood that two of the female asian elephants in Dublin Zoo are pregnant
It is understood that two of the female asian elephants in Dublin Zoo are pregnant

Sean Noone & Claire Murphy

IT APPEARS that the new male Asian elephant in Dublin Zoo has gotten two females pregnant – and possibly a third.

Upali (18), who arrived to Dublin from Chester Zoo a year ago, could be responsible for a sizeable increase in the elephant herd at the zoo.

When he arrived last year, it was hoped that he, together with three breeding females, would increase the size of the Dublin Zoo herd.

According to zookeeper Brendan Walsh, that appears to be happening.

“Three of our oldest girls - we think two of them may be pregnant,” he said.

“With Dina (Bernhardine) and Anak, it's looking definite but we’re not completely certain,” he added.

Mr Walsh confirmed that hormones in the elephants’ faeces are tracked to determine their reproduction.

“We take it out, put it in a pot, it goes off to a lab,” he said.

“If they are pregnant, the progesterone would be up high, like it would be in a human, and then that will tell us the information.”

Mr Walsh also said that over-the-counter human pregnancy tests are used on elephants.

“They are the standard pregnancy test for them,” he said.

While this may be great news for the zoo, the arrivals aren’t expected in the near future.

Typically, Asian elephants are carried for 19-22 months by their mother before birth.

When the calf arrives it will weigh about 100kg; more than an average fully grown man.

Asian elephants are on the endangered species list. Only 42,000 exist in the wild, though a similar number exist in captivity.

The news caps an exciting time for Dublin zoo, which welcomed a baby tapir last week.

The male calf is the second child of mother Rio and father Marmaduke.

Rio only arrived in Dublin two years ago and the baby follows Marmaduke Junior (MJ for short) who was born last year.

The calf does not yet have a name but Dublin Zoo are taking suggestions for a name on their Facebook page.

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