With its five world-class veterinarians, 49 elephants, and many superbly trained 'mahout-nurses' in support, the Thai Elephant Conservation Center's Hospital is by nature an open air laboratory important to the whole world. This is particularly so because while so many of the elephants in Western zoos are old, overweight, and suffering from health problems linked to close confinement, the TECC's elephants represent the whole age spectrum and all are fit, active and happy.
Undoubtedly, of all the TECC's Hospital Work, the greatest technical achievement, and certainly its most public success, is the birth of the first elephant baby ever to be conceived from Artificial Insemination (A.I.) outside of the USA and Europe. Born on June 25, 2007 as a result of using fresh semen, the healthy young male, affectionately nicknamed 'A.I.', now performs in the TECC' daily shows and participates in other activities, including Homestay. Latterly, in October of 2009, HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej graciously bestowed 'A.I' with a royal formal name: Phlai Pathomsompob.
Even with the skills of the TECC's veterinarians this historic achievement was possible only with the collaboration of the Faculties of Veterinary Medicine of both Kasetsart University and Chiang Mai University. Many other government agencies, individuals and NGOs helped, including critical financial support from the Treasure Our Elephants Foundation.
The TECC Hospital has also been central to other important scientific research in reproduction, including the difficult process of freezing and then reactivating elephant semen. Much of this highly sophisticated research has mind-numbing titles (including terms like 'Timing of the anovulatory luteinizing hormone surge'), but virtually all of this research has great practical application, such as early diagnosis of pregnancy and hormone monitoring, which is critical to the success of both normal and artificial reproduction.
Another great reproduction related achievement of the TECC's vets, with help from their colleagues, was the world's first successful surgical removal of a naturally aborted elephant fetus through an episiotomy, a very difficult operation in elephants because of the size of the required incision.
The TECC Hospital has also been an essential partner in much research into the genetics of Thai elephants.
The TECC Hospital has a website, though unfortunately in Thai language only.
View a paper on the genetics of Thai elephants in a PDF file.
View a paper on elephant body chemistry in a PDF file.