Elephants in Human Care

Tai, Becky, Tess and baby Tucker

Innovative Attempts to Propagate Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus Cell Culture

The ability to grow and propagate this virus in laboratory conditions is so critical for the progress of future research towards understanding the biology and pathology of this virus, as well as for any hoped for possibility of generating live attenuated vaccines that additional innovative approaches must be carried out as one of the top priority goals of EEHV research. This study will employ a variety of improved detection methods and alternative approaches beyond the simplistic standard ones.


Validation of the Effectiveness of Anti-Herpesvirus Inhibitors for EEHV Disease

This project will carry out sophisticated basic research experiments designed to answer which if any of the drugs are truly capable of stopping EEHV so that informed decisions can be made.


Disease Risk Analyses for Tuberculosis Detection and Prevalence in Elephants

Identification of risk factors and assessment of currently available diagnostic methods in U.S. elephants will provide information that can be used for making recommendations to minimize transmission and prevent infection. Improved interpretation of diagnostic tests, identification of risk factors associated with infection, and assessment of the current infection status of the U.S. elephant population will facilitate decision-making by elephant managers, veterinarians, and regulatory officials regarding movement, treatment, and management of elephants to prevent TB infection.


Innovative Attempts to Propagate Elephant Endotheliotropic Herpesvirus Cell Culture

Tuberculosis in elephants in the United States is a complicated disease that poses numerous elephant and human health concerns, regulatory difficulties, and diagnostic challenges. Tuberculosis is difficult to diagnose in elephants, and current diagnostic tools have limitations. In addition, treatment options for elephants are of uncertain efficacy and have potentially serious side-effects. These issues have contributed to debate regarding appropriate regulatory standards. This study is intended to ensure that contributions from all authorities are integrated into an objective assessment of currently available information, and it will assist with clarifying where key information exists or needs to be developed to best manage and eliminate Mtb in elephants.


spermac stain

Investigating a Low Tech Method of Cryopreserving Elephant Sperm

Cryopreservation of semen for use with artificial insemination has the potential to be a valuable tool in the management of elephants. Unfortunately, post‐thaw motility of cryopreserved Asian elephant sperm is usually poor. This study will investigate the use of manual seeding to control ice crystal propagation and thawing at temperatures higher than 37C as a method of increasing post‐thaw sperm quality of cryopreserved Asian elephant sperm.


EEHV Viral Genomics and Pathogenesis

The three most common and useful techniques for studying viruses are not applicable for EEHV. However studying the genomes of EEHVs by PCR amplification and DNA sequencing directly from necropsy tissue and other clinical samples provides information about the genetic make-up of each virus and about the genes and pathways that they utilize to take control of particular types of host cell. That information allows us to generate additional clinical reagents such as specific antibodies and target antigens, as well as cloned expression vectors for viral enzymes that can be used in laboratory research and pathological diagnosis. The ultimate goal is to identify viral immediate-early genes, latency genes and immune evasion genes and other potential novel viral genes or pathways that will provide insights into the mechanisms of viral pathogenesis, and will also in the future help for generating engineered attenuated vaccine strains or new targets and approaches for better antiviral drugs.


2013 IEF funded projects 2-13