Artificial Insemination Performed by BioPark Staff
March 8, 2012
Blood tests have confirmed that the BioPark's 19-year-old Asian elephant, Rozie, is three months pregnant. Average gestation for elephants is 23 months, making her due date sometime in November 2013. (UPDATE: While the birth window is between August-November 2013, zookeepers expect the calf's arrival in September 2013 based on Rozie's first pregnancy.)
"We are cautiously optimistic because it is early in the pregnancy," said Rhonda Saiers, Elephant Barn Manager." We will focus on giving Rozie the best prenatal care possible, with carefully monitored nutrition, exercise and regular check-ups through ultrasounds and blood work."
Saiers continued, "It's exciting that Daizy, Rozie's first calf, may get to be a big sister. She will be four years old when the calf arrives, which is a great age for her to learn mothering skills by watching her own mother give birth and care for the calf."
The BioPark is one of only a few facilities to successfully perform an in-house artificial insemination. Semen was collected from Samson, one of the BioPark bull elephants, who was recommended for breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Elephant Species Survival Plan (SSP). The SSP coordinates conservation efforts for the elephant population among North American zoos and wildlife centers. The ABQ BioPark has been designated as an Elephant Breeding Facility.
This is the second pregnancy for Rozie, who was born at the ABQ BioPark Zoo in 1992. Her mother, Alice, is also part of the BioPark's multi-generational herd. Rozie's first pregnancy went smoothly and her calf Daizy is thriving, weighing more than 3000 pounds and gaining up to two pounds a day. "Rozie has proved to be a great mother - she is diplomatic, setting limits when she should and giving Daizy freedom to explore when it is appropriate," said Saiers.