VIENNA, Va., Jan. 28 (UPI) -- The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation has announced the birth of its first calf born as a result of artificial insemination.
Because the healthy male Asian elephant was born at the Virginia center Jan. 19 -- the eve of the inauguration of U.S. President Barack Obama -- he has been named Barack.
The 250-pound calf is the first offspring for 14-year-old Bonnie, who also was born at the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation, and until recently was performing with "The Greatest Show on Earth."
Two male elephant donors from the Ringling Bros. herd contributed to the artificial insemination procedure and Ringling Bros. veterinarians will soon be taking blood samples to determine which donor is the calf's father, the center said.
"The reality is that the worldwide elephant population is declining, which means the overall mortality rate is increasing and that is a heart-breaking fact. That is why, at Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, practical solutions that help to care for and to save these magnificent animals are critical," Kenneth Feld, founder of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation, said in a statement.
"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."
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