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Asian Elephant (Elephas maximus) Fact Sheet: Managed Care

History of Managed Care


2000 BC First trained for war by peoples of the Indus Valley. Not terribly effective due to tendency to retreat when assaulted.

1796 First Asian elephant brought to North America

1880 First North American elephant born in managed care was in Philadelphia, PA.

  • Named Columbia, her parents were part of Cooper and Bailey Circus

1979 Cross between African and Asian elephants at Chester Zoo, England

  • Female Asian was bred by a male African
  • Calf only survived 10 days

1985 Raja, a male elephant in managed care with extremely long tusks, declared a national treasure in Sri Lanka

Live Camera Feeds

Elephants in Zoos

Currently (as of 2000) 285 Asian elephants in North American facilities and 16,000 world-wide

13,000-16,500 employed throughout Asia in logging, tourism, transportation industries, and religious ceremonies

  • Outstanding qualities: intelligence, strength, flexibility, low maintenance costs, and minimal impact on environment.

Conservation problems in Asia

  • Lack of documentation of elephants in managed care (important for breeding)
  • Hesitancy to breed working elephants due to loss of work from pregnant females
  • Recent curtailment of logging has left many "unemployed" elephant beggars

Genetic survival of African and Asian elephants may depend on successful managed care breeding programs

General challenges in managed care breeding include

  • Inability to keep breeding-age bulls due to aggression during musth
  • Space requirements (American Zoological Association): 167.2 sq. m (1800 sq. ft.) for single adult outdoors; 83.6 sq m (900 sq. ft.) for each additional elephant
  • Lack of knowledge of elephant's estrous cycle
  • Dietary deficiencies
  • Rejection of calves by mothers due to lack of socialization


Page Citations

Csuti (2006)
Kurt (1990)
McNeely (1992)
Shoshani (1992)
Tuttle (1992)

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