African Elephant and White Rhino Semen Bank

To establish a semen bank for African elephants and white rhinos from South Africa


African elephants (Loxodonta sp.) and white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) have a low breeding success in captivity and therefore the captive population of these two species still rely heavily in imports from the wild or game farms. This situation has not been improving in the past years and can seriously compromise the existence of self sustainable populations under human care and the global conservation of these two flag species.


IZW has developed successful techniques for artificial insemination which can be a very useful tool for the increase and management of these populations. However, in both species, there are very little breeding bulls in captivity and the existing ones are not trained or semen collection.


The success of artificial insemination as a propagation tool for these two populations is therefore highly dependent on the availability of semen of good quality which presently is difficult to obtain.


Ten elephants bulls aged more than 25 years and five white rhinoceros bulls will be selected and anesthetised at the Phinda Game Reserve in South Africa.


Their semen will then be collected through electro-ejaculation by IZW team assisted by Beauval Zoo team. The samples will be transported by helicopter to the field lab where they will be frozen in liquid nitrogen according to the established protocol. The semen quality, its preparation and freezing procedure are of the utmost importance at this stage for the project success. We estimate that 150 to 200 semen tubes will be prepared and tested for shipment to Europe.These tubes will then be stored at Beauval Zoo and will be made available for Zoos and IZW for their artificial procedures. Beauval is prepared to store 300 semen tubes if necessary. 


WAZA Conservation Project  09016 is implemented by Beauval Zoo and Institut fur Zoo und Wildtierforschung (IZW), and supported by Pittsburgh, Disney Animal Kingdom, Pretoria (National Zoological Gardens of SA), Association Beauval Conservation et Recherche (ABCR), Institut fur Zoo und Wildtierforschung (IZW), and BiobankSA.


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  • Wild African Elephant and White Rhinoceros Semen Bank
  • Wild African Elephant and White Rhinoceros Semen Bank
  • Wild African Elephant and White Rhinoceros Semen Bank

    Wild African Elephant and White Rhinoceros Semen Bank

    © Paul Selvaggio (1, 2) and Zoo de Beauval (3)