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Tuesday, 3 July, 2001, 12:03 GMT 13:03 UK
Elephant-sized fertility treatment
Tanya Colchester Zoo
Experts from Germany carried out the proceedure
An elephant in Essex has become the first in Britain to become pregnant through artificial insemination (AI).

Tanya the African elephant, at Colchester Zoo, is almost three months pregnant.

The insemination was carried out by experts from the Berlin Institute of Wildlife Medicine and Research.

If the calf is born, it will be only the fifth elephant in the world to have been produced as a result of AI.

Failed matings

The zoo decided to use artificial insemination after natural matings between Tanya and the zoo's bull elephant, Tembo, did not work.

Tanya Colchester Zoo
The pregnancy will take 21 months
Anthony Tropeano, the zoo's curator said: "It will be Colchester's first baby elephant.

"Obviously, we are pleased and perhaps especially delighted because if she carries the youngster through full term it will be the first elephant born here at the zoo, and the first born through artificial insemination in this country."

Tembo is also the father of another baby produced by artificial insemination.

In April, Sabi, a female at Vienna Zoo, gave birth to Abu, the first baby produced this way in Europe.

'Early days'

Colchester Zoo said it is too early at this stage to see images of Tanya's baby because the foetus is only the same size as an apple.

The German scientists will return to Colchester Zoo in November to perform further ultrasound examinations and an image of the baby could then be available.

Elephant Birth
Elephant pregnancies last 21 months
Labour may last more than two hours
Baby elephants weigh between 75 and 150 kg
Tanya, who has lived at the Essex zoo since 1984, is also the only elephant in the world to conceive after only one insemination.

Mr Tropeano said: "Usually it takes two or three attempts, so we are very fortunate. We are stressing that it is very early days for Tanya and her pregnancy.

"Like all pregnancies there is the possibility that she may miscarry, so we are keeping our fingers crossed."

Zoo staff are hoping another elephant, Rosa, is pregnant after having mated naturally with Tembo.

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See also:

14 Feb 01 | Asia-Pacific
Thai elephants tie the knot
10 Jun 00 | Sci/Tech
Elephant born online
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