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Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey(R) Proudly Announces Its First Elephant Calf Born From Artificial Insemination
Date:1/27/2009

/i>. "Our priority at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey is to invest in and support health and conservation programs for captive populations that in the future may help save range country populations. We are thrilled that Bonnie and now Barack are living tributes to our commitment at Ringling Bros."

Barack is only the fourth elephant to be born in the United States from artificial insemination (AI). The first calf born from an AI was in 1999 at Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri under the watch of Dr. Dennis Schmitt, Chair of Veterinary Care and Director of Research for Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey. AI procedures are considered a viable option in conservation programs where species like the Asian elephant are endangered. The AI procedure is meant to complement natural breeding efforts not replace them. It also helps to manage and increase the gene pool population without the logistics of relocating and introducing a male elephant (solitary by nature) to an established herd of female elephants.

"The key to a successful AI is timing for the female in conjunction with a viable semen collection. On average, a female Asian elephant cycles approximately three-to-four times a year so the procedure must take place during a very brief two-to-three day period around the time of ovulation when fertilization is most likely," says Dr. Dennis Schmitt. "There have been great strides within the past decade in animal reproductive sciences as it pertains to inseminating the captive elephant population. The commitment from Ringling Bros. to ensure that the endangered Asian elephant survives has been monumental to these research advancements."

Advancements include: improved ability to predict ovulation as a female elephant's cycle must be identified before an attempt to inseminate; better semen collection protocol for male elephants to ensure viability and motility; and insemination
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SOURCE Feld Entertainment, Inc.
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