If you’ve ever been to the Denver Zoo, you’ll know that the herd of Asian elephants live a cush life in Toyota Elephant Passage. They’ve got 10 acres of wide open space, deep watering holes, and enormous play structures — a pad suitable for the “bachelor herd” of six males.
The lack of female presence is intentional. After the zoo’s last female elephant, 53-year-old Mimi, died in 2012, the zoo got more involved with Asian elephant conservation (there are fewer than 40,000 left in the world!) by collecting and studying elephant semen, then sending the samples to other zoos where there are females waiting to be inseminated.
The Denver Zoo now has four of only six Asian elephants in the country that are trained for semen collection. This program in a male-only facility allows the elephants to contribute to breeding efforts without having to worry about herd logistics.