The number of African and Asian elephants in North American zoos is declining as a result of many medical issues. A new disease has recently been discovered that is now hindering elephant’s ability to survive even further. This is a major problem because according to Science Magazine, as of 1997, there are only an estimated 291 Asian elephants and 193 African elephants left in North American zoos. Since this survey was conducted, this number has severely declined. It is now estimated that for every elephant that is born in a zoo another three die.
In the wild, female elephants are constantly pregnant or nursing. This is natural for them because their instincts tell them that they need to keep their number up in the wild or else they will be preyed on to extinction. In zoos it is much harder to accomplish this. Since there are so few elephants in North American zoos, it is hard to form breeding pairs without inbreeding. The Association of Zoos and Aquariums or AZA is an organization which is in charge of and supervises all of the zoos and aquariums in North America. Even if the elephants are just distant cousins, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums will not allow them to breed together. This is to prevent diseases and other problems from emerging. Zoos also cannot bring in new blood to breed with their elephants because new elephants are no longer ...
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Richman, Laura K., Richard J. Montali, Richard L. Garber, Melissa A. Kennedy, John Lehnhardt, Thomas Hildebrandt, Dennis Schmitt, Douglas Hardy, Donald J. Alcendor, and Gary S. Hayward. "Novel Endotheliotropic Herpesviruses Fatal for Asian and African Elephants." Science 19 Feb. 1999: 1171-176. Print.
Schmitt, Dennis L., Douglas A. Hardy, Richard J. Montali, Laura K. Richman, William A. Lindsay, Ramiro Isaza, and Gary West. "Use of Famciclovir for the Treatment of Endotheliotrophic Herpesvirus Infections in Asian Elephants (Elephas Maximus)." Journal of Zoo and Wildlife Medicine 34.4 (2000): 518-22. Print.
"Studies from University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Institute for Clinical and Molecular Virology in the Area of Cytomegalovirus Described." Science Letter 2409 (2011): n. pag. Print.
Thompson, Jackson. "Dickerson Park Zoo Keeper." Personal interview. 2013.
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