Sunday, October 14, 2012

PAWS threatens to sue me? Heres the laywers letter.

In my mailbox a couple of days ago, was mail from a law firm in Boston, representing PAWS and Le Petit Cirque, with the subject:Cease and Desist: Defamatory Postings and Copyright Infringement. For anyone who never heard of PAWS (Performing Animals Welfare Society), its a "animal sanctuary" up in Galt, northern California, USA, owned by Pat Derby and Ed Stewart, and in spite of its impressing incomes, its refered to as a non-profit. Obviously some of their funding is used to pay lawyers: The mail I recieved from PAWS lawyers, contained a pdf document with the following:

Apart from a lot of irrelevant text masses in this document, comes the first written confirmation from PAWS  that several of their elephants suffer from TB. The document does not only mention the elephant, but it says the elephantS that suffer from TB etc...

Obviously the lawyer doesnt have a clue what he is talking about. I guess, during his studies, that he never specialized in Tuberculosis, or how it can be diagnosed on elephants. He may be excused, and I also think hes doing his job, and need to earn his money. He probably believe that PAWS tell truth. 

The people who gave money to PAWS, so PAWS can sue as many people they want,  are also excused. They belive that they are doing something good, saving elephants and saving the world, by giving an organisation money, although the organsation wants more elephants to come to their TB-infected facility. Together with those elephants will also more money come. And more power.

PAWS are not, and can never be, excused. They must, or should know, that within their group of elephants, maybe, or rather probably, all elephants are infected, even if they can not confirm this by tests. All present elephants has during the years been mixed with each other, and two has been TB positive during autopsy. Tuberculosos is known to be carried away over distances, and in The Elephant Sanctuary, where they argued that the founder Carol Buckley kept  "the highest standard" etc in the TB monitoring, some years later 9 of the TES staff tested positive, including 3 from administration building. Shortly after this, Mrs Buckley was dismissed from TES.

The owners of PAWS, as well as Mrs Julie Woodyer from ZooCheck Canada, and Toronto Councillor Michelle Berardinetti, (who according to some sources may have a background as animal rights activist and associated with ZooCheck) are the only people I can find that claim that PAWS elephants are free of TB. None of those three persons, to my knowledge, are veterinarians. 
Julie Woodyer is against zoos in general, and has been campaigning many years to move Canadas elephants to any of the TB infected sanctuaries in U.S.A, which gives an interesting indication about how much she in reality care for those elephants healths. Here she says "I would recommend Sumac to charities large and small who want an easy transition and a user friendly database that will meet all of your fundraising needs." Without fundrasing ZooCheck Canada wouldnt exist, and in order to get fundings, ZooCheck must exploit animals in a way, so people gets motivated to send them money.

Berardinetti, more or less repeats Julie and PAWS words like a parrot, and pretend for the Toronto citizens that she is some sort of elephant expert, and PAWS, as owner of a sanctuary which is a BIG money industry, does not want their sanctuary to be closed down from public visitors.

Those three people, has to my knowledge, not found one single veterinarian, having insight on elephant TB, that back up their personal ideas about TB on elephants. From my point of view, its totally amazing, that the local Police does not move their butts into their vehicles, drive to TB-infected sanctuaries like this, ask for the keys to the gate, and close them completely for visitors.

Any person with common knowledge of animals, would understand that this is not a place to send healthy elephants. A person with minor intellectual capacity, would understand that its not a suitable playground for children. And that parents to those children have any reason to be upset, if, or when they get information that their children has been inside elephants stables, on a location where animals possibly suffer from Tuberculosis and that at least 2 elephants during the last 2 years tested positive.

Le Petit cirque is a pretty unknown organisation to me, why I will wait to discuss them.
All I can say is that I saw the picture with their performers playing around in PAWS elephants stables, which for many reasons doesnt seem to be the best place, in July this year!!

I became of course upset, and on an old blog I did in January, called Tuberculosis in two U.S. elephant sanctuaries, I copied the picture, and made the following remark:

 And should the elephant stables really be a playground for children and youths?

 JULY 29, 2012: Le PeTiT CiRqUe'S HUMANITARIAN cirque company of kids visited the Performing Animal Welfare Society's Incredible 23,000 sq.ft sanctuary and learned about the incredible animals they are performing for at the AVALON THEATRE on Sept-30. Since all of our productions are humanitarian based, the youths learned about these animals and where they were rescued from

Did the youths and their parents also learned about the lethal zoonosis infection elephants from those stables are carrying?

Only hours later, PAWS lawyer send me the mail with the letter above. The lawyer is not only refering to the lines about my worries for the children and youths health situation, but also asking me to remove text concearning PAWS from my websites. I guess they are refering to the following:

After my blog in January 2012 it is now confirmed that 2 U.S. elephant "sanctuaries" are now Tuberculosis infected, The elephant sanctuary in Tennessee, and PAWS in northern California. PAWS want more elephants, so their funds from the public can increase! Please search as much information you can find regarding the planned translocation of 3 healthy african elephants from Toronto Zoo to PAWS "elephant sanctuary" in NORTHERN California. The picture shows Nicholas, PAWS Asian bull elephant, walking in the snow. It is not known if PAWS are following the The AZA 40 degrees F rule. It seems like the elephants can choose as to stay inside or outside. Last year the Bull Sabu died, officially of "severe arthritis", however PAWS in their newsletter wrote one year before: Prince and Sabu, both retired performing elephants, are in good health so we expect them to be with us for a very long time. In this PAWS newsletter it also mentioned a very cool and rainy spring. PAWS and ZooCheck Canada have tried to hide that Sabu was also suffering from Tuberculosis. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also found that two other elephants that died at PAWS within the past two years also tested positive for [tuberculosis] TB, according to necropsy reports. Please sign the petition asking Toronto City Council, to terminate the Agreement with PAWS, and let professionals decide about Toronto elephants whereabouts!

PAWS is also closely associated with the animal rights people who are against zoos, and plan to setup an "elephant sanctuary" in europe, which, if it comes to reality, also will be dependant on funding from AR people for its existence, and maybe using "Noble Cause Corruption" methods.

I guess many people would be scared if they got a document like the one above, with threats sent from a lawyer. I was puzzled for some days, and decided that Im not, and will never be scared of people that are trying to hide facts, and scare critical people to be quiet. Especially if they are red haired, and looks like they have problems of moving their body because of their body weight.
This woman may have rich people giving her money, but they will never have so much so they can buy my silence. And Im sorry, but I worked a couple of animals with larger teeth than her lawyers...

This is not the first time that PAWS is engaged in law suits, contrary, this seems to be an important part of their activities. "PAWS continues to waste its contributors' money pursuing ridiculous litigation," said Stockton attorney Dean Ruiz, representing two clients who won a case against PAWS last year. "If I was a donor, I'd want my money back."

In 2002, PAWS spent $67,000 in legal fees, according to its income tax return.

Source (2003) : Along with success, PAWS faces legal, financial challenges

Pat Derby with elephants
The following figures of the PAWS animal industry are from 2003: Derby makes $36,416, plus housing on the Galt sanctuary grounds, while Stewart, as secretary and treasurer, makes exactly $1 less. PAWS had a net worth of more than $3.5 million while spending more than $1.7 million per year. The land value of its three sanctuaries is

Yes, you read right, In 2002, PAWS spent $67,000 in legal fees, according to its income tax return.

In one lawsuit, PAWS sued John Ham, who lives on property next door to ARK 2000 west of San Andreas, Ham's friend, Kevin Krantz, and Frank Eckblom, publisher of the Calaveras County Daily News, in 2002, claiming that they defamed and harassed PAWS.

However, in September 2002, David L. DeVore, a visiting judge from Alpine County, threw out the lawsuit, saying that Ham, Krantz and Eckblom were exercising their First Amendment rights regarding a public matter. PAWS still owes Ham and Krantz about $7,000 in court and legal costs, and it owes Eckblom about $10,000, said Ruiz, who represents Ham and Krantz.

"We're still awaiting payment on the attorney fees order," Ruiz, said.

"People who send us donations continue to do so," Derby said. "People who join PAWS and donate to PAWS believe in what we do."

I have been thinking on the person that did such a thing, using the money from her supporters, in order to rush to a laywer, in order to try to scare me to be silent, obviously a habit of hers.

Not everyone has that sort of golden pockets, so they can make use of laywers as an argument and it becomes very clear, that all the money is from PAWS supporters, and that Pat Derby realized an alternative way to exploit animals, which gives less work, than working as an animal trainer.

Some questions arise:
  • Why is their organisation not transparent? 
  • Why are they attacking zoos and circuses?
  • Why are they attacking their neighburs?
  • Why are they trying to scare me with their lawyers? 
  • What do they hide?
In my next blog: Read more about Pat Derby and what people who know her past has stated reagarding Pat Derbys poor competence as animal trainer, critizising her total lack of welfare for animals in her posession, as well as privately taking money away from shared bank accounts with other persons os companies.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Elephants in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island with a land area of approximately 65,610 km2 situated in the Indian Ocean, 35 km from the southern end of the Indian Peninsula. There are 501 protected areas in Sri Lanka. Protected areas in Sri Lanka accounts for 26.5 percent of total area.This is a higher percentage of protected areas than in all of Asia and much of the World. According to Wikipedia, between 1990 and 2000, Sri Lanka lost an average of 26,800 ha of forests per year.This amounted to an average annual deforestation rate of 1.14 percent . Between 2000 and 2005 this accelerated to 1.43% per annum.

The first-ever nationwide elephant census in August 2011 produced a total of 5,879 jumbos across the island, of those, only 122 elephants were tuskers. (Source) Some environmentalists were unhappy with the methodology and questioned its results. But even imperfect data can inspire more systematic conservation measures.  70 per cent of Sri Lanka's wild elephants are not in protected areas.

Human-elephant conflict has transcended from just being a wildlife management problem to one of the worst environmental and rural social economic crises in Sri Lanka's Dry Zone (Source) In Sri Lanka nearly 120 wild elephants are killed by humans and in return about 65 people die after being attacked by elephants every year. It seems most of those elephants are males, possibly who goes into farmed areas in search for rich food, before, or during their musth period.

A europan organisation that has been involved with elephants in Sri Lanka, is Austrian Sri Lankan elephant research and conversation project (ASERC) which was founded by the vice director at the Vienna Zoo in Austria, Dr. Harald Schwammer in 2005. ASERC gives financial aid to the elephant care centres in Sri Lanka and supports with experts in the veterinarian and management sector. In addition ASERC provides a better education for local people and children in schools, but above all to make better contact with local farmers.

In 2007: Sri Lanka Wild Life Conservation Department sources revealed that over the last 15 years, 1,850 elephants, 1,192 of them, male, had been reported killed.(Source)  A number of tragical train accidents also results in elephants dying, but the total annual number is not high.

Meantime, according to Department of Wildlife Conservation (DWC), a number of juvenile elephants been illegally captured in Asirigama for domestication:

"DWC has in its custody at its Anuradhapura Office a baby elephant which had allegedly been illegally captured for domestication by still unidentified people who on hearing that the DWC was on their trail abandoned it close to Asirigama in the Palugaswewa area. When DWC officials set up a cordon, on hearing of the attempt to smuggle the baby elephant from the Asirigama area, the culprits had tied the baby to a tree in the scrub jungle leaving a few water melons by its side, before making good their escape, it is understood.
They may have been planning to come back when the heat was off, a DWC source said, adding that the baby is a female of about one and a half years. It may have been illegally captured by either killing the mother or when it fell into a waterhole in the jungle.
Many conservationists were of the view that the Asirigama area is notorious for alleged attempts to illegally capture baby elephants. The modus operandi seems to be to capture babies and then introduce them as having been born to captive cow-elephants, they said". (Source)

The white elephant of Sri Lanka: Sudu-Aliya (Sudi)
On July 24 and 25 2004, Sri Lankan newspapers reported the spotting of a white (albino) elephant in Yala National Park, Sri Lanka, a female named Sue, short for Sudu-Aliya" which means "white elephant". Although this was the first time that this had received wide publicity, Dr. Prithiviraj Fernando had observed this animal as a newborn in Heenwewa in 1993. In 1996 the same animal had been photographed in water by a group of enthusiasts. Sudi is mostly a light tan color with white body hair but has a black tail tuft. Therefore, she is not a complete albino.  Source: The White Elephant

Captive elephants in Sri Lanka

Small Perahera in Rambukkana, 2012
In 2008 the captive elephant population consisted of 137 elephants, of which only 27 were tuskers.

The annual Perahera in Kandy, which dates back nearly 220 years, is celebrated July-August each year, where many of the captive elephants can be seen. Another important Perahera is the annual Nawam Maha Perahera at Gangaramaya Temple in Colombo which is held in Februari.

In 1999, Wimalaratne and O, Kodikara DS. from Department of Rabies Diagnosis and Research, Medical Research Institute, Sri Lanka wrote about the first reported case of elephant rabies in Sri Lanka. (Source) which was followed by 2 cases in 2009. In the elephant database, there is presently 5 elephants listed, that died of rabies. Read also about Results of vaccination of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) with monovalent inactivated rabies vaccine.

The milkshed at Pinnawala orphanage 2012.
The Elephant Orphanage in Pinnawala has recorded the highest number of elephant births in 2011, according to the statistics of the Department of National Zoological Gardens. During the year, 15 elephant calves were born and nine of them were males. Apart from the breeding project in Pinnawela,  the breeding of captive elephants in Sri Lanka seems to be low, a report speaks about only three captive born baby elephants outside Pinnawela..

Stamp issued 1989 in memory of old Raja in Kandy
The Department of National Zoological Gardens has earned Rs. 651 million during 2011, the highest on record. The income came from earnings from the Dehiwala Zoo (Rs. 163 million), Elephant Orphanage, Pinnawela (Rs 487 million) and Rs.16 million from other sources. More than 1. 6 million locals and 20,000 had visited the Dehiwela Zoo in 2011 while around 400,000 locals and around 2.4 million foreigners had had visited the elephant orphanage (Source)  

Sri Lanka's tourist arrivals hit a record high in December 2011, with 97,517 tourists arriving in the island, the data released by the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority (SLTDA) The month has recorded a 15.2 percent increase in arrivals compared to December 2010 while the number of arrivals in 2011 increased by 30.8 percent over the previous year. (Source


Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Elephant captive breeding history and Hall of fame

The elephants were never domesticated, and although captive breeding for sure occured, before and during medevial time, this was ocassionally, by random matings, and probably never leading to a second generation.
The reason, especially in Asia, was simple: it was much easier to catch wild elephants in the forest, and tame and train them, than trying to breed them. Maybe Asian mahouts during medevial times, already then found out, that captive born elephants becomes much more dangerous and aggressive, than wild caught elephants, a fact that obviously still until today is unknown by most laymen, and also many people within the Zoological community. Another reason was that the elephants were used for war or work, why it was more effective to catch semiadult, or adult elephants. Some Indian states actually had written laws, prohibiting capture of elephants younger than 20 years. Investing time, food, and recources in elephant babies was uncommon.
Therefore, Asia had no traditions of captive breeding, and the first recorded babies born in Asia is from the 18 century. The northern african elephant, Loxodonta pharaoensis, (now extinct) which was captured and used for roman time wars by Carthago and Rome, was probably not bred in any remarkable numbers, although some records indicate elephant births on the Compagna outside Rome City.

In the book Modoc: The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived, the author Ralph Helfer tells about Modoc the elephant born in Germany in 1900 to Mr. Joseph and Katrina Guntertine, which is all false, its no true story at all, no such elephant were born at that time in Germany, no german elephant keeper ever stranded with his elephant in India, and according to elephant and circus historian William "Buckles" Woodcock, Helfer mixed up three different wildborn Modocs which all were kept at Ringling Brotters and Barnum and Baileys Circus in USA:
With this falsery, Ralph Helfer even managed to bring this fictional elephant Modoc, being merged from three different Modocs, into the Guiness books of records, as the oldest elephant recorded, from which I believe, it is now removed. If not, it should be.

The first documented 10 captive born elephants

The first documented captive bred elephants in the western hemisphere were indeed born on circuses.In those times very few zoos kept bulls, but the circuses did, with lethal consequences for the elephant trainers.

1. The very first The first documented birth of a captive asian elephant outside Asia, was the male Joe born 31st May 1875 at Howes Great London Circus (he died shortly afterwords)

Babe and Columbia 1880 at the Cooper & Bailey winter quarters in Philadelphia.
2. The second was the female Columbia born 3rd October 1880 on Cooper & Bailey Circus who was 27 seven years on her death 1907. Although her mother, Hebe, commonly known about the show as Babe, was one of the best-natured elephants I ever knew, the daughter grew meaner and meaner as she got older, until in 1905 or 1906 she had to be killed. Mr. Bates, who was assistant superintendent of elephants for a long period of years, told me she inherited her vicious disposition from her sire.
W. Henry Sheak, The Elephant in Captivity, Natural History, September-October 1922

The father of the those first two babies, Mandarin, was killed and sent to the bottom of New York Harbour in 1902, on Barnum and Baileys retour to the U.S. from the european tour.

3. The third baby was Bridgeport born 1882 at Barnum and Bailey Circus, She was burned up in the fire in 1886 that destroyed much of the splendid menagerie of Barnum and Bailey.The father, Chieftain, was killed in 1888 by strangulation, he was choked to death by two bull elephants Basil and Bismarck

4. Ringling Bros Circus had a baby born named Ned (Nick)  in 1900. His mother Alice did not take care of her son, and was Ned was bottlefed, but with less results, he died three months old. He was the first birth on the Ringling Brothers Circus.

5. The first elephant born in a Zoo, was a stillborn calf born 1902 in London Zoo, but it was bred on Circus Sanger.

6. The same year, 1902, an elephant was born on Ringling brothers Circus, which was killed by the mother.

Phua Victoria Portena with her mother Nayan, Buenos Aires Zoo 1905
7. In Buenos Aires Zoo, Argentina, the worlds first Zoo-bred surviving elephant was born 23 february 1905, and got the name Phua Victoria Portena. Unfortunately she died after three years. Her father Sanyan was bought from Firma Hagenbeck, and killed at least one keeper.

8 and 9. In 1906 the two elephant babies Mädi born in Vienna Zoo. and  Editha born in Berlin (Conceived between February and April 1905 in Hagenbecks Tierpark, Hamburg.) was born, Mädi died in 1944, officially shot because of enteritis while the bombs fell in Vienna, and Editha, who was rejected by her mother died only some weeks later after the birth in anorexia, the hand rearing was not succesful.

This photo shows Ellen with Kaspar,the day after he was born.
10. Denmark had three elephant births in a row, the first was the bull Kaspar born in Copenhagen Zoo 1907.

Kaspar was named after Mr Kaspar Rostrup, and was rented some years, during the summers, to a circus  owned by by Wrestler Magnus Bech-Olsen (World champion in 1892 and held this title until 1903).

Kaspar was transfered in 1912 to Hannover Zoom who paid 5.000 german Marks for Kaspar. Hannover sold in 1922 him to Jardin d´Acclimatation in France. In spring 1927 he becaome more and more aggressive, due to musth condition, and it was decided to kill him, after he tusked a zookeeper. Some sources state he was poisoned, other strangulated. At death he reached 2.70 meters at shoulders, and had a weight of 4000 kgs.

 11. Vienna Zoo had a stillborn baby in 1910.

12 Vienna Zoo had the next birth with Greti, who were born in 1911, and died in 1916, five years old.

Then 100 years went by, with various results. Many elephants were killed by their mothers, and there was also some stillbirths. And quite a few of the captive born elephants became much more aggressive during their teenager age, than the wild caught elephants, resulting in keeper accidents and euthanising of the elephants. The first official example is Komali, born 1984 in Zürich Zoo. Many laymen beleive that captive born elephants become more docile in captivity, but this is not the case, by apr. 10 years of age, or even earlier, especially young bulls, they create much more problem than wild-caught elephants.

Another sensational knowledge through the captive breeding was that young females, dominated by their fathers could give off spring in very young ages. Some females, bred by their fathers by the age of six, gave birth to babies by eight years of age, without undergoing major physical problems. This has, during the last ten years,  resulted in an intensive transfer of breeding bulls by animal transport companies, in order to avoid inbreeding.

Elephant captive breeding in Europe

The breeding of elephants in Europe is supervised by the EEP, The European Endangered Species Programme. There are presently about 500 Asian, and less than 300 African, captive elephants in Europe. The majority are cows, but Apr. 50 Asian (10 breeders) and 40 (2breeders) African are bulls. 16 Asians, and 3 Africans, of these were born in Europe, the rest wereimported from origin countries.
Between 1902-1992; 121 Asian, and (1943-1992) 11 African births are registered.
The first two generation born elephant in europe was Charkowtschanka born 1958 at Kharkiv Zoo. Rotterdam Zoological Gardens in Holland had three unique elephants babies: Both their parents were born in Zoos,(Copenhagen and Hanover) so those three are true second Zoo generation. Bernhardine (Bernhardini) was the first 2nd generation zoo elephant elephant in the world, whos both parents were born in zoos. Rotterdam Zoo broke a record in 1997-1998, having bred four elephants in four months!

Read more on (incomplete) EEP elephant studbook in the elephant database

Elephant captive breeding in America

The breeding of American elephants is supervised by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association Species survival plan including the African , and the Asian elephant.

The first births was in 1880 and 1882, but ut took long time until next births. From 1962 until 1994, 85 births were recorded, with a birth almost every second year. In 1994 about 50 of these were still living.
Second Zoo generation offspring has been born in the most productive Zoo; Portland in Oregon, and in Calgary, and the first third-generation elephant to be born in the United States was Sam (Samudra) at Portland Zoo. Other productive locations are African Lion Safari in Canada, and Ringling Bros Barnum and Baileys breeding farm.

Read more on (incomplete) SSP elephant studbook in the elephant database

Elephant captive breeding in Australasia

The first elephants in Australasia was two imports to Sydney and Melbourne Zoo from Calcutta Zoo in 1883.

The breeding of elephants in Australasian Region is supervised by the Australasian Species Management Program (ASMP) and care and management by Guidelines for Management of Elephants in Australasian Zoos. Both are within the (ARAZPA). The import of elephants from Thailand in 2006 has so far resulted in 3 succesful births of Asian elephants, the first one was the male elephant Luk Chai born 2009, the second the female elephant Mali, born 2010, and the third was the male elephant Pathi Harn, born 2010.

Read more on (incomplete) ASPM elephant studbook in the elephant database

Most succesful captive elephant breeders worldvide

It should take almost hundred years before the natural captive elephant breeding was becoming really successful, but although breeding had a slow beginning, it has been succesful since the 1970´s with following 20 record holders:  (I may have forgotten some important breeding facility, please correct me, if so)
  1. Pinnawela elephant orphanage in Sri Lanka had officially 67 births since 1984.  
  2. Ayutthaya royal kraal, in Thailand had so far 57 (they state 55!) recorded births since year 2000.
  3. Ramat Gan Zoo in Israel had 38 births between 1973 and 2006.
  4. Portland Zoo (Metro Washington Park Zoo) in U.S.A. had 27 births between 1962 and 2008.
  5. Emmen Zoo in Netherlands had 26 babies between 1992 and 2011.
  6. Hannover Zoo in Germany had 26 babies between 1942 and 2012. 
  7. In my records, Maesa elephant camp in Chiang Mai, Thailand, had 22 recorded babies since 1997, but I think the correct number should be much higher, I visited this place in 1989, and they had, for sure breeding already then. They may eventually be nr 1 or 2 as breeder.
  8. Roman Schmitt had 20 births between 1983 and 1995  in Busch Gardens U.S.A.
  9. San Diego Wild Animal Park in U.S.A. had 20 babies between 1981 and 2011.
  10. Ringling Bros. And Barnum & Bailey Center For Elephant Conservation in U.S.A. had 18 births between 1996 (they took over Roman Schmitts breeding project) and 2010. 
  11. Howletts Wild Animal Park in United Kingdom had 18 births between  1982 and 2011.
  12. Tiergarten Berlin-Friedrichsfelde in Germany had 16 births between 1998 and 2010.
  13. Houston Zoo in U.S.A. had 16 births between 1983 and 2010.
  14. Rotterdam Zoo (Diergaarde Blijdorp) in Netherlands had 15 births between 1984 and 2010.
  15. Carl Hagenbecks Tierpark in Hamburg, Germany had 15 births between 1929 and 2009.
  16. African Lion Safari in Canada had 14 births since 1991.
  17. Cabarceno Zoo Obregon (Parque de la Naturaleza de Cabarceno) in Spain had 14 births since 1995.
  18. Copenhagen Zoo (Zoologisk Have) in Denmark who had 14 births between 1907 and 2006.
  19. Paris Zoo in Bois Vincennes,  France (not operating anymore) had 11 births between 1945 and 1998.
  20. Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, U.S.A. had 10 babies born between 1985 and 2006, sharing their level with Zürich Zoo in Switzerland, who also had 10 babies in similair time span, between 1984 and 2005..
Artificial insemination

Photo © Daryl Hoffman, Houston.
Only in the last decades U.S. and german scientists managed to breed elephants by artificial insemination (AI) So far, 36 elephants has been born by AI since 1999, 25 males, and 10 females. 17 bulls were used for AI. With african elephants in U.S. a mix of semen with different bulls has been used, and the father has later been prooved through DNA testing. The next step is now to select the semen, in order to avoid the birth of too many bulls in captivity, since AI seem to produce many bulls.

AI is mostly used as an option with places that doesnt have a (breeding) bull present, and when its important that the females start to breed. A female that didnt had a baby before 20-25 years of age, will often undergo pathological development in the ovaries, such as myomas, and will become sterile.

In order to save those females for future breeding, its sometimes essential to breed them through insemination.


Apart from stillbirths, and elephant babies being killed by their mothers, a virus has become a major threat towards baby elephants. The EEHV - Elephant endotheliotropic herpes virus has so far killed over 45 elephant babies, and the virus is now feared by all western elephant breeding institutions. For some time, it was thought that the herpes virus from african elephants were lethal for Asian elephants, but lately, with more collected data, it seems like its more complicated than that. The virus has also been found on wild Asian elephants, who had no physical contact with captive Asian or African elephants. Some institutions prepare for the worst, and store medicine before birth, and start to medicate their new born elephant calfs when theres only small suspicion of herpes.

But in general, elephant captive breeding is not a large problem  anymore, the challenge is more connected to enough space to keep breeding groups, and to house bulls in a safe and not too small environment.

Some zoos, like Heidelberg in Germany, has focused on management of young bulls, which they keep for future breeding projects. This is almost similair to wild conditions, where semiadult bulls stay together in bachelor groups. One of the davantages is that this system gives them more stimulation than if they would kept single in a smaller enclosure in a zoo. Still, probably many single adult bulls could theorethically be kept together with the breeding groups, like fomer examples from Hannover, Paris and Howletts did for many years.

Breeding situation 2012

The statistical section of the elephant database shows a total of 1262 captive-born from both species since 1875, 652 cow elephants with offspring, and 245 bull elephants with offspring. Presently,  31 female elephant cows (1%) out of 2443 total living cows are pregnant, 653 females (27%) had babies, while 1759 (72%) are virgins who never had a calf. 

Leading breeding bulls are  African Yossi from Ramat Gan and Asian Vance (Matt) who both sired 23 babies each. Ramat Gan also win the price for the highest inbreeding of elephants, othervise the inbreeding so far does not look so serious.

I hope the import restrictions to western countries will soon be removed. Theres really no serious threat towards most of the present African and Asian elephant populations, and I see no reason why the elephant species shall not be treated just like any other mammal species. Zoos in America and Europe now breed elephants succesfully, but now and then theres a need for new blood, and younger females for zoos who have some gentle and nice females, which are too old to breed.

Some, later critizised animal dealers/brookers, actually contributed a lot to breeding programmes. While single zoos today have problems of importing only a few animals for breeding, dealers like Franz van den Brink in Netherlands, (and Firma Ruhe, Firma Hagenbeck and Georges Munro before him) actually supplied europe with their larger parts of present breeding materials, through his +40 elephants import from Burma 1988-1990. Another example is the "crazy" millionaire and inventor of the  Nautilus exercise machines, Mr Arthur Jones, who imported some 80 baby elephants from Zimbabwe in 1984, which today are the dominant breeding african elephants in North America.

Today theres unwritten rule that Zoos shall not buy animals from animal dealers, but history shows that companies like Hagenbecks and Firma Ruhe collected important knowledge and experience as experts in this particualir field, which each single zoo simply can not reach. For sure, a lot of unnessecary problems could be avoided if importers were aloud to operate, and build up their special competence in that sector.

One can also hope that politicians and zoo directors get tired to listen to the never ending flow of critizism from animal right activists, whos hidden agenda is that they are just against anything, and their knowledge is extremely low, all they do is repeating the same message they read on their favouriye forums, but it has to be stated, that seldom, or never, do they posses any sort of relevant personal knowldge or experience in regard to elephant training, management, pathology or breeding. They just scream very high, and unite in terror like organisations, signing thousands of petitiions, which may upset a few pubertal, unexperienced, politicians.

But in no democrazy, shall a majority of people have to surrender to a minority, only because they are more aggressive, manipulating or terrorizing, than the rest of the population. 

I know, since the elephant keepers meeting in Howlets back in 1999, that some people within the EEP elephant tag does not believe in existence of subspecies within the Elephas maximus, but for sure, those people are not DNA specialists, and now, after 100 years of various attempts of elephant breeding, when every single elephant baby was considered a success, regardless if it was a crossing of Borneo and Sri Lankan subspecies, it may now be time, to start to consider breeding true lines of different local varieties, and today, theres really no need for mixed elephant subspecies breeding anymore.

Urgent need

Finally, there may be time to think about exporting elephants back to their origin countries, as Zoos has already done with other mammals pecies, like the Przewalski's horse, the eruopean Bison, and the Arabian Oryx.

One example may be Vietnam, which today has less than 52 wild elephants and about 82 captive elephants.

Facing this situation, Vietnam is now setting up thier first elephant conservation centre, which will need all support it can get, financially, but also with breeding material and breeding know-how.

As far as I can see, theres 16 living Vitnamese elephants in US and Europe, of which at least 50% are in breeding age, (and the rest could give moral "aunt" support to the potential breeding females) which could contribute to a captive breeding project in Vietnam. 16 elephants is nothing compared to what Franz van den Brink imported to Europe in the 80s, and it should be quite possible to send those elephants back, to a country that has almost run out of breeding material, with only a handful females in breeding age left.

Of course, the captive breeding of elephants must also be safe and succesful for the elephants. In order to acchieve this, Vietnam may need some support, not only with elephants, but also with experience.

Something I hope both EEP and SSP will consider to give. Its payback time...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Tuberculosis in two U.S. elephant sanctuaries

My earlier blogs Can elephants suffer in sanctuaries, as an effect of volonteers opinions? and Can Sambo and other elephants transmit tuberculosis to people? has become even more actual after the death of Sabu (Look Chai) at Performing Animal Welfare Society / ARK 2000 (PAWS). Sabu was relocated to PAWS' ARK 2000 Sanctuary in September 2010, from Patricia Zerbinis Two Tails Ranch in Williston, Florida.

Sabu lived one year at PAWS. Sabu arrived a year ago PAWS, in Galt, northern California, and was euthanised there a week ago, 29 years old, officially because of severe arthritis. But 29 years is a very young age for an elephant to develop such a severe arthritis that he must be euthanised. 

PAWS wrote in their 2010 newsletter: Prince and Sabu, both retired performing elephants, are in good health so we expect them to be with us for a very long time. In this newsletter is also mentioned a very cool and rainy spring.

And Patricia Zerbini, owner of Two Tail Ranch in Willistone, Florida, where Sabu was housed by Ringling Brothers Barnum and Baileys Circus before his relocation to PAWS says: Sabu had no medical issues here, he was very sound and never showed any joint stiffness what so ever.

Sabu was here untill a year ago when he left to go to PAWS, He did belong and was here under the care of Ringling Bros. staff and veterinarians, but I saw him every day and in all the years he had been here I never saw any signs of arthritis, or other illness, he was a very healthy beautiful animal, the reason he was retired so young I was told is because he got too large to travel comfortably by train. I was here the day he was loaded and lended a hand with his loading, he in no way had any stiffness, soarness, or signs of problems with his joints, I would think that if he had any arthritis in him that would cause his collapse and death a year later he would have had to show some kind of signs while here at the ranch, I am not sure what happened to him while in the care of PAWS and I am sure we will never know but I do not in any way shape or form believe that arthritis was a factor in his death. Patricia Zerbini 2012-01-17

More elephants were euthanised at PAWS for the same reason, arthritis:
  • In April 2008, the 56 years old Asian female Winky (Winkie), arrived in August 2005.
  • In March  2005, the 39 years old Asian female Tinkerbelle, arrived in November 2004.
  • In September 2003, the 51 years old Asian female Tamara.
But nothing is mentioned about that Sabu suffered from Elephant TB (Mycobacterium tuberculosis).
At PAWS, Sabu joined Nicholas, PAWS' youngest bull elephant and half brother to Sabu, who arrived there in 2007 together with an Asian female Gypsie, from John Cuneos Hawthorn corporation. In January 2009, Gypsie was relocated to the other Asian females. PAWS writes on their website: Gypsy had provided security, safety and wisdom to him as long as she could. In the wild, he would be sent out to follow older bulls and learn the ritual that all elephants understand.We moved Gypsy down the hill to join the other Asian elephants where she's been given a much deserved rest and retirement after the daunting task of raising a young bull. Nicholas is now a neighbor to Prince and Sabu, PAWS two other bull elephants. (Source)

Which means that the Tuberculosis possibly was spread to previous kept elephants at PAWS.

The both bull elephants stables can be seen on this video:

Nicholas belonged to a group of Tuberculosis infected elephants from Hawthorn corporation in U.S.A. which needed to be translocated.  Most of the elephants were sent to two elephant sanctuaries In U.S.A.: The Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee and Nicholas to  Performing Animal Welfare Society / ARK 2000 (PAWS).

The lengthy relocation effort began in March 2004 when APHIS settled a case with the Hawthorn Corporation for violating the Animal Welfare Act.  Under the terms of the consent decision and order, Hawthorn paid a $200,000 fine and agreed to donate the entire elephant herd to other facilities.  Although the decision was a regulatory accomplishment for AC, it quickly became a steep logistical challenge. Of the 18 elephants, 2 (Nic and Gypsy) went to the  PAWS facility, 1 went to an individual licensed exhibitor, 1 to the Endangered Ark Foundation, and 11 to the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee.  Unfortunately, four of the elephants covered under the order died prior to or shortly after being placed in their new homes. (Source)

People objected to the idea to mix TES elephants with documented Tuberculosis infected elephants. But the elephant sanctuary in Tennesee claimed they had a TB quarantene, and that the medical issues were monitured scientifically. Maybe they thought so, but it wa false...

A later report released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says:
TB spread to eight employees, though three of them didn't work directly with the elephant, according to a report released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The three worked in an administrative building next to an elephant barn at the refuge in Hohenwald, about 85 miles southwest of Nashville.

Some elephant holdings, including PAWS Sanctuary, claim the have a TB protool and perform trunk washes. But trunk washes are extremely inacurate. In a TB outbreak in Sweden, five elephants were affected. Of 189 trunk wash samples collected, only 7 were positive from the 5 elephants that were confirmed (on postmortem) to be infected with TB (Moller 2005, Moller 2006, Lewerin 2005). Presently, the TB Rapid Test is the most accurate method to trace TB among captive elephants. Read more: Is the trunk wash an accurate diagnostic technique?Elephant tuberculosis FAQ by
Sabu tested positive for TB (Tuberculosis) already in year 2000. Karl Cullen writes on his blog elephant dreaming: "Their three female Asians and one bull, Sabu, have all been exposed to the TB virus, which can be transferred elephant – human and vice versa, so when in contact with any of them we were required to wear face masks".

Peter Dickinson writes on his blog:
It is known that 'Sabu' had tested positive for TB in 2000 though there was no mention of this as a contributory factor in the death. In fact the TB has not been mentioned at all. This is both as odd as it is disturbing because it is a Animal Welfare Act regulation that 'all captive elephants in the US are periodically tested for TB...and that all of those having close contact are tested on an annual basis'.
So was 'Sabu' cured? Did he no longer have TB?

Were the councillors kept in the dark over the TB question? How open has this sanctuary been with its medical records? If it were an AZA approved collection (which it isn't) then these records would be available. It is to an approved AZA collection that the Toronto Zoo staff wanted to send the animals they loved and cared about. Now they have another nightmare of worry. (Link to the blog article

Pam Reid-Chevalier writes on Facebook:
The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is a U.S. govt regulating body that has specific legal requirements. According to page 21 of the APHIS manual on Guidelines for controlling TB in elephants PAWS was required by law to do TB testing before and after the euthanasia of Sabu:

"It is essential that a post-mortem examination be performed on all elephants that die. The examination must inc...lude a thorough search for lesions of tuberculosis regardless of exposure status. Prior to any planned euthanasia of an elephant, trunk washes, blood for serology and any other ancillary tests should be performed regardless of whether or not TB is suspected. In this way, valuable data can be gathered to evaluate the efficacy of the current testing protocol. In the event of a sudden death, collect post-mortem blood and separate serum for other tests. "

There has to be records somewhere so I think that PAWS should publicly release the results of these tests in order to answer the questions that have been raised concerning the TB status of its elephants.
Read more on U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at Guidelines for the control of Tuberculosis in elephants

Animal rights activists main stream has claimed that Performing Animal Welfare Society / ARK 2000 (PAWS) is the only suitable place for the3 african elephants at Toronto Zoo in Canada. Thousands of people have signed petitions that Toronto elephants should be moved to PAWS, encouraged by, among other celebrities, Bob Parker. In the article  Bob Barker Visit Could Sway Vote On Sending Toronto Elephants To Sanctuary is written: A visit from Bob Barker may have been the final push needed to convince Toronto officials the city's three elephants should be sent to a sanctuary in a warmer climate.

Neither the retired game show host or the journalists at The Canadian Pres, or Zoocheck Canada, or Toronto City councillors Michelle Berardinetti and Shelley Carrol, who claimed that another winter in Toronto Zoo could kill the Toronto elephants, seems to have bothered to look on a map, looking up the longitudes for Galt, where PAWS is located, and Toronto. Galt, situated in NORTH California, is not really tropical...  For anyone, not just interested in signing petitions, it may be interesting to learn about how the Golf Stream affects east coast, with warmer water, due to the coriolis power... further reading may suggest find out why corals grown on east coasts, and less at west coastsand why upwellings are more common on west coasts. Now, african elephants are less sensitive to cold. It may be noted that North Americas most succesful breeding operation of Asian elephants, is in Cambridge, Canada, only some kilometers south-west of Toronto...

It is not known if PAWS are following the The AZA 40 degrees F rule. It seems like the elephants can choose as to stay inside or outside: "
Last Thursday, as Detroit's elephants snaked their way across the Plains States in a semi-trailer truck, Derby shuffled out every two hours in a nightlong rainstorm to check on the three Asian elephants that had refused to come into the barn that night. With a 10,000-candle power spotlight, she verified their whereabouts while often wallowing in a pond that night and returned for another fitful 120 minutes of sleep. "If they go down, you've got about two hours to get them up before they suffocate" under their own weight, she explained. Earlier this year an elephant did go down. Tinkerbell, who had only been at Ark 2000 for four months after her transfer from the San Francisco Zoo, collapsed and had to be euthanized. (source)

I have worked with arthitis elephants, and although elephants are intelligent, they didnt really seem to have an intellectual attitude, as to understand what components may affect their arthritis legs.

I am highly sceptical, that any professinal manager would conifirm, that this sounds like a responsible way of keeping tropical animals. PAWS claim that they have an "elephant jacuzzi" and other therapy methods for arthritis elephants, but the text above gives an indication that in spite of expensive investments, allt this technique can not compensate lacking common sense. If this location would have been in Florida, the situation would have been different. But its northern California...

An article written three years ago says: Nicholas, PAWS Asian bull elephant, walked outside for a few moments, but he obviously preferred a heated floor and very warm water for drinking to the beautiful, but frigid conditions in his outdoor habitat. (Follow this Source and read about the snow falls in NORTHERN California)

Last year the snowfall was 2 feet deep in Galt. 
[EDIT: maybe this is wrong, maybe the snowfall was not two feet deep. I dont think it really matters for elephants how deep the snow is, what matters, is they shouldnt walk free in and out, on their own wish, under such circumstances.]

I have no reason to accuse PAWS for anything, and I realize that they are eager to take as many new elephants as possible to get more fundings. What I can not understand i why PAWS suddenly became the only appropriate place to relocate Toronto Zoos elephants to? And why not AZA member locations can not even be considered? This blog article is not a critic against PAWS, who for sure have to compete with other institutions, in order to get funds, so they can develop and buy even more land.

Its critical against people, who by political manipulation, stop to think themselves, and just keeps signing petitions, or taking council decisions, although thay lack most knowledge and background information needed, to engage in issues like where elephants should be located. 

Is it logical to only see a TB infected location holder, pretty up north in west coast north America, as the single only place where Torontos elephants should live, just because a retired showman want to pay the transport of the elephants, if they come there.

Is it because its called a Sanctuary? (Sanctuary = good, Zoo =bad?)

But can the defenition Sanctuary really be applied to a location holding with infected animals, carrying a chronic, lethal disease? Regardless of if they claim they have a TB quarantene? Is there, scientifically, an existing TB quarantene at PAWS and TES? It was claimed so before, but the present board of TES also alleges that the previous directors failed to implement infection control measures, which the sanctuary and regulators agreed to, that preceded several elephant caregivers' testing positive for tuberculosis. (Source from a blog, The Teneseean has, for some reason, removed the article from their online archive)

And should the elephant stables really be aplayground for children and youths?

 JULY 29, 2012: Le PeTiT CiRqUe'S HUMANITARIAN cirque company of kids visited the Performing Animal Welfare Society's Incredible 23,000 sq.ft sanctuary and learned about the incredible animals they are performing for at the AVALON THEATRE on Sept-30. Since all of our productions are humanitarian based, the youths learned about these animals and where they were rescued from

Did the youths and their parents also learned about the lethal zoonosis infection elephants from those stables are carrying?

As far as I can understand, a place with infected Tuberculosis animals, can not be defined as a sanctuary, since its not a safe place for healthy elephants. And Florida may actually be much warmer for the Toronto elephants...

Still PAWS directors does not understand why AZA want to send the elephants to warmer Florida, and they write on their website:
Some of the most renowned and respected scientists — Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole, Winnie Kiiru, Keith Lindsay and Dr. Jane Goodall — have recommended the PAWS ARK 2000 sanctuary to Toronto Zoo as a retirement home for the three African elephants, Thika, Toka and Iringa. Why does AZA consider their years of experience as unimportant, and continue to threaten Toronto Zoo with the horrors of lack of accreditation? (Source)

So whats more important, the future health of the Toronto elephants, or the thousands of petition signers on Internet? Should decisions be made by experts, or by politicians, dependant on, and manipulated by, propaganda?

And who are experts by the way? 

And if the above mentioned "experts" really think its better to move healthy elephants to a Tuberculosis infected "sanctaury" on the somewhat colder north california coast,   rather than to a TB free AZA credited location in Florida, well we might ask ourselves, are really Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole, Winnie Kiiru, Keith Lindsay and Dr. Jane Goodall that stupid, or is it possible their names were used by the welfare people according to the new "noble cause corruption" mentality?

Maybe, just maybe, Cynthia Moss, Joyce Poole, Winnie Kiiru, Keith Lindsay and Dr. Jane Goodall doesnt really think that healthy elephants should be infected with Tuberculosis?

You may actually ask them, because, they signed papers in order to convince us hat experts had analyzed the destiny of the healthy Toronto elephants, and the only place they recommend was a private location with Tuberculosis infected elephants, pretty much north in California.
 -Although Florida is warmer...

How odd it may sound, this was their decision. Or was it? Ask them!  

2013-03-11: USDA to Consider Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants
WASHINGTON, Dec. 28, 2012--The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) is taking public comments on the Agency’s intention to use the 2010 “Guidelines for the Control of Tuberculosis in Elephants,” issued by the United States Animal Health Association (USAHA), to assess whether or not USDA licensees are adhering to the Animal Welfare Act (AWA) regulations and providing their elephants with adequate veterinary care with respect to tuberculosis (TB), TB testing and elephant movement

Link: read more