Hussein's death blow to elephant breeding programme

An elephant bound for Antwerp Zoo died when it was being loaded into a van in Hamburg in Germany. Hussein was a male elephant and was coming to the Plankendael Animal Park in Mechelen in order to inseminate several female elephants.

Plankendael is a subsidiary of Antwerp Zoo. The Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp says that the news is a major blow to the international breeding programme. Preparations for Hussein's trip to Mechelen and the transfer of the five female elephants from Antwerp to Mechelen have been underway for many months now. Hussein was supposed to arrive on Friday ahead of the five female elephants on Monday.

The poor animal died as he was being loaded into the transport van in Germany. In Antwerp the five female elephants have been in training to teach them how to get into their transport van for several months.

The death of the elephant poses a major problem for the international breeding programme. In Plankendael the female animals will be given more space and this should encourage them to breed, but without Hussein this will be difficult.

Hussein was only 40 and had fathered 14 baby elephants.