Aged nearly 21, male African bush elephant “Pambo” died 2013-01-23 at Valencia zoo, Spain. According to the zoo's internet homepage, the animal would show normal behaviour the evening before, including normal food intake. The next morning, on Jan. 23rd, 7 a.m. the male would lay down in his stall, not responding to his keepers, but showing signs of colic. Though “Pambo” received medical treatment, he passed away at aprox. 2 p.m. the same day.
“Pambo” had arrived only 2 months before his death to breed with Valencia zoo´s 6 young females. Previously he had been living at Cabarceno zoo, Spain, siring 2 calves there. Before this, “Pambo” had been living at Vienna Zooo where he sired his 1st offspring in 2001 but would not get access to the breeding females anymore for the next 8 years.
The loss of this breeding male means another shock to the African elephant EEP management programme, which is specifically marked not only by too many individuals kept without adequate breeding mates, but a general lack in male breeders as well. After death of “Pambo”, only 9 more proven breeding bulls remain in Europe´s zoos and safari parks, with 2 of them not even taking part in the EEP programme. Furthermore, 4 out of the remaining 7 males are currently kept without fertile females or with females being close-kin. On the other hand, 23 fertile females living in 9 institutions – which all take part in the EEP programme - are in desperate need of an adequate breeding male. This dramatic situation had been a subject of our organization´s publication in Elefanten-Magazin No 18 (in German).
To save Europe´s population of African bush elephants from a breakdown, males who didn´t sire offspring yet have been becoming immensely important. Unfortunately 7 out of those 8 males aged over 20 years are presently kept without fertile females, with 4 of them not even taking part in the EEP management programme. Thus, younger males aged between 10 and 20 years are about to be introduced as a breeding bull-to-be, missing any opportunity to socialize and learn normal male-male social behaviour in bachelor groups, as they would in the wild.
Due to this situation, it is absolutely incomprehensible and, from the European Elephant Group´s point of view, counter-productive if 14 y.o. zoo-born male “Tutume” (born at Berlin Tierpark, currently loan to Osnabrück zoo) would be handed over to Canada and the North American SSP, as suggested by certain EEP programme authorities. Concerning the European population of bush elephants, another potentially important breeding bull would go astray without a trace.