• Hybrid Elephants

    For many years, researchers have been fascinated by the apparent inability of an African Elephant and an Asian Elephant to produce offspring. These two species are completely different, despite sharing many physical similarities. In fact, they are more than different species; they are entirely different genera (each belonging to a different genus). In the medical field, it is generally accepted that breeding across genera is impossible.

    It is for this reason that Motty was welcomed with more than open arms on his entry into the world. Motty was born in 1978 at Chester Zoo in Cheshire. His mother was an Asian Elephant and his father an African Elephant. Motty was born with the cheeks, ears and legs of an African Elephant. That is to say, he had large, pointed ears and long, thin legs. However, he had 5 toenails on the front of his feet and 4 on the back as well as a single trunk finger; both characteristic of an Asian Elephant. He had a typically African wrinkled trunk, but and Asian-type hump on his back. Motty was very unusual in appearance but won the hearts of those who had the privilege of meeting him.

    Unfortunately, Motty only lived 12 days. He died of an infection of the umbilical cord. Post mortem investigation showed that death was due to necrotic-enterocolitis and E. coli septicaemia. His body can be seen preserved at London’s Natural History Museum.

    There have been rumours of 3 other hybrid calves being conceived. However, all were born deformed and none survived infancy. This is yet another indication of the power of nature’s selection process; the ability to filter out the weaker of the species and maintain only the strongest, healthiest and fittest. It also demonstrates the dangers of human involvement in nature, and urges mankind that, no matter how advanced our biological technology becomes, nature will prevail.