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Memphis Zoo's African Elephant Miscarries

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – It is with tremendous sadness that the Memphis Zoo announces 29-year-old African elephant “Gina” has had a miscarriage. Gina was due to give birth in August of this year.   

Zoo officials became concerned last week when ultrasounds showed lack of fetal movement. Ultrasound expert Dr. Shannon McGee and Zoo veterinarians conducted an in-depth ultrasound Sunday and confirmed that there was no heartbeat. The cause of the calf’s death is unknown at this time.  

Gina came to the Zoo from a private owner in November 2008. This would have been her first calf and the second elephant birth in the history of the Memphis Zoo. In 2009, the Zoo faced the accidental death of “Asali’s” calf when it was just one day old.  

“Our animal caregivers, researchers and staff have been working for a very long time on this pregnancy, and everyone here at the Memphis Zoo is deeply saddened by this turn of events,” said Dr. Chuck Brady, the Memphis Zoo’s president.  

“Zoo keepers and veterinarians will continue to observe Gina with ultrasounds and blood monitoring,” said Matt Thompson, Director of Animal Programs. “The staff will conduct daily exercises with her to help pass the calf.”  

For the safety of the mother, the Zoo will not attempt to remove the fetus.  

“It is our hope that in the coming months, Gina will naturally pass the calf,” said Dr. Felicia Knightly, Memphis Zoo Senior Veterinarian. “However, it is possible that she could retain the calf for an extended period of time. It is also possible her body could reabsorb the fetus. We will monitor her closely during this time.”

  A full analysis and necropsy will be conducted to determine the definitive cause of the calf’s death when the fetus passes.  

The pregnancy was a result of the Zoo’s continued participation in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) plans to grow the population of elephants in accredited zoos. This plan, known as the Species Survival Plan, outlines the management and development of healthy elephant herds, as well as providing support for elephant research and conservation programs.    

About Gina’s Pregnancy Artificial insemination procedures were performed at the Zoo October 24 and 25, 2010.  Elephant gestation is 22 months, so the calf was expected to be born in August 2012.   

About the Memphis Zoo Elephants 
• Asali: female, born at Gladys Porter Zoo in Brownsville, Texas on August 29, 1985.
• Tyranza:  female, wild born in Africa in 1964.
• Gina:  female, wild born in Africa in 1983 and rescued as an orphan.    

About the Memphis Zoo The Memphis Zoo, located in Memphis, Tenn., is home to more than 3,500 animals representing over 500 different species. Recently named as the top zoo in the country by TripAdvisor®, the Memphis Zoo has completed over $93 million in renovation and expansion since the early 1990s. The Zoo's animal inhabitants reside in one-of-a-kind exhibitry, such as Once Upon A Farm, Commercial Appeal Cat Country, Primate Canyon, Animals of the Night, Northwest Passage, Teton Trek and CHINA - home to giant pandas YaYa and Le Le. The Zoo was founded in 1906 and resides on 70 acres in the middle of Overton Park. The Memphis Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Memphis Zoo, YaYa and Le Le are trademarks of the Memphis Zoo.  

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Posted by Zoo Info at 1:39 PM