Opal the elephant is pregnant

AN elephant acquired by a zoo after its original owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty has become pregnant for the first time.

Roddy Ashworth

AN elephant acquired by a zoo after its original owner was prosecuted for animal cruelty has become pregnant for the first time.

Opal the elephant became pregnant by fellow herd-member Tembo at Colchester Zoo through artificial insemination and is expected to give birth in the spring of next year.

The move comes on the 10th anniversary of the prosecution of Mary Chipperfield and her husband for the abuse of a number of animals in their travelling circus.


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The unhappy conviction paved the way for the two animals to come to Colchester Zoo, based in Stanway.

After the prosecution, the pair were bought by the Essex tourist attraction along with another elephant, Rosa, who had to be put down in November 2007 due to serious health problems.

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Over the last 10 years bull elephant Tembo has fathered four young of whom two were born at Colchester, Kito and Jambo.

Tembo's other calves born through artificial insemination were Abu, who was born in April 2001 in Vienna, and Thabo-Umasai, who was born at Dresden Zoo in February 2006.

Anthony Tropeano, Colchester Zoo's Zoological Director, said, “Opal and Tembo are in the best of health and thoroughly enjoying their life at Colchester Zoo after such an unhappy time spent at Chipperfield's.

“We are absolutely delighted with the news that Opal is pregnant and that both elephants are now playing such an important part of the breeding programme for African elephants.

“We are very much looking forward to the arrival of a new baby elephant at Colchester Zoo around April 2010.”

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