Monday, March 19, 2012

Project Frozen Dumbo

An unusual problem. The Economist reports that:
the gene pool among captive African elephants has grown woefully small. A single bull named Jackson has sired many of the calves born in the United States in the past decade, and scientists say new bloodlines are needed to avoid future inbreeding among his many progeny.
So the Pittsburgh Zoo, which keeps Jackson at a conservation centre a little way outside the city, has joined an international effort to establish North America’s first elephant sperm bank. The plan is to distribute from it semen collected from wild elephants in South Africa and frozen. Project Frozen Dumbo, started two years ago and led by a German researcher, has already set up an elephant sperm bank in France in the hope of resolving a similar predicament in Europe. [. . .]
Just 39 of the 213 African elephants believed to live in North America’s zoos, circuses and a few private parks are bulls, and even fewer of them are suitable for breeding. Jackson stands out for his “fantastic libido” and highly productive semen, says Deborah Olson, who heads International Elephant Foundation, a conservation group. But this means that too many of the existing elephant stock are now related to him.
So here are Lee Hazlewood and Nancy Sinatra singing “Jackson” from their classic album Nancy & Lee, recorded in 1968 when she was hotter than a pepper sprout:

And here are Jenny Morris and INXS in 1985 with the same song. If you watch closely you will understand why I always say that the worst job I have ever had is playing guitar on-stage behind Jenny. It was very difficult to concentrate on the fretboard:

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