Zoo to set up sperm bank for elephants

Aug. 8, 2011 at 2:40 PM
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PITTSBURGH, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Zoo says it is waiting for genetic material from the South African government to start North America's first sperm bank for African elephants.

Zoo officials said they have been waiting almost two years for the material, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported Monday.

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

The genetic samples were collected as part of Project Frozen Dumbo, an international effort to aid zoos in breeding and conserving the animals.

The frozen samples are being held in Pretoria, awaiting export and import permits to reach the United States.

"This is a way to bring in new bloodlines without bringing an elephant in," Baker said. "It's much easier to carry a little vial of semen ... than to bring in a full-grown African elephant."

Baker said she expects South African approval in a month or so, and that the frozen samples can last for several years.

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