Kelli Quinn

Animal Life 10:00


Blasko, David. "Elephant Training and Its Impact on Research.

Elephants have been kept in North American captivity for over 100 years. Unfortunately, scientists still understand very little about them. David Blasko, attended a symposium at the Indianapolis Zoo, for 2 days. There was four objectives for the symposium to discuss: 1) Behavioral Studies, 2) Clinical Pathology, 3) Nutrition/neonate care, 4) Organization and Communication, and 5) Reproduction.

Blasko watched Dr. Dennis Schmitt and Dr. Thomas Hilkerbrandt practice the procedure to artificially inseminate an African American Elephant. The elephant was restricted only by the calm control of the elephant keeper. No chemical immobilization was needed. "Several times during the symposium it was apparent that the better trained the elephant was, the more that it could be accomplished."

Blasko gives an example of the scientists must collect blood, everyday, from the elephant, for serum progesterone analysis. If the elephant is not compliant, the test results could be risked. He says after watching the rectal ultasonography, he would not try such a procedure on an untrained animal.

Blasko provides evidence that a better-trained elephant has a better potential for research. Good control, appropriate training, good facilities, and good health can contribute to the "data-base of information regarding the species." Researches will soon gravitate to animals that seem to meet the qualifications of a research animal.

The training of elephants is in some ways vital to the life of elephants. If the elephants are trained, the research that can be done on them is expanded. If proper research and tests are ran on the elephants, the ability to help, cure, or save them increases. The insight that specially trained elephants can give researchers can be imperative to the life of an elephant in the wild as well as in captivity.