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Sixteen Liters Of Elephant Sperm Delayed In South Africa

PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania ~ (Pittsburgh Tribune) ~ The Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium is on the verge of creating the very first sperm bank for African elephants in North America.  Unfortunately, the zoo has been forced to wait for the South African government to release sperm to deposit in the bank.

“It is taking longer than we hoped, but we knew when we started that it had not been done before,” said zoo President and CEO Barbara Baker.

Scientists worldwide were sent to the Phinda reserve in South Africa to assist in Project Frozen Dumbo.  The project is an international campaign to assist zoos in breeding and conserving the African elephant.  Participants included Thomas Hildebrandt of the Leibniz Institute fir Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and ZooParc de Beauval in France.

The scientists collected sperm samples to create banks in Pittsburg and in the ZooParc de Beauval in France.

“This is a way to bring in new bloodlines without bringing an elephant in,” said Baker.  She added, “It’s much easier to carry a little vial of semen.

16 liters of African elephant sperm sit frozen in the Nation Zoo’s BioBank in Pretoria, South Africa, awaiting the proper permits before shipment.

The South African Embassy refused to respond for a comment regarding the delayed sperm shipment.

There is no precedent for an elephant sperm bank, so there is no telling how long the process of approval may take.  After the sperm is given the okay by the South African government, it still has to get approval from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and then the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Once the sperm arrives it will give to used to inseminate 300 female elephants and will be distributed to zoos free of charge.

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