The basics of artificial insemination may be routine, but a glance into the elephant house at the Woodland Park Zoo yesterday evening should have been enough to convince anyone that this super-sized branch of animal husbandry poses some uniquely huge problems.These are the same German scientists who successfully impregnated Lulu, the Northern White Rhino at Budapest Zoo. [Related Archive Post]
Last night in the elephant house, a scaffold was erected at the business end of Chai so Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt, from the Berlin Institute for Zoo Biology and Wildlife Research, had easy access. Hildebrandt was covered in plastic protective gear and sporting a bike helmet he had equipped with ultrasound imaging goggles.
"Reproduction technology is increasingly important for saving species," said Hildebrandt. He and his colleagues apply their skills to many animals, such as the critically endangered Northern White Rhino.
Dr Hermes of the Berlin Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research tells me that, to the best of his knowledge, Lulu's pregnancy is progressing normally, and she's due to deliver her baby in August 2005. Enough time to knit some rhino-sized baby-booties...
I'm trying to get in contact with someone at Budapest Zoo who'll be better able to update us on Lulu's progress, but I don't speak Hungarian.
This zoo page has a picture of Lulu, and presumably is talking about her pregnancy, but your guess is as good as mine. I've not found a working online translator for Hungarian to English.