Motty (11 July 1978, Chester Zoo, Cheshire – 23 July 1978, Chester Zoo, Cheshire) was the only proven hybrid between an Asian and an African elephant. He was named after George Mottershead, who founded the Chester Zoo in 1931. The male calf was born on July 11, 1978, in Chester Zoo, to Asian mother Sheba and African father Jumbolino ("Bubbles").
The calf's cheek, ears (long with pointed lobes) and legs (longer and slimmer) were of the African type, while nail numbers (5 front, 4 hind) and the single trunk finger were Asian. The wrinkled trunk was like an African elephant. The forehead was sloping with one dome and two smaller domes behind it. The body was African in type, but had an Asian-type centre hump and an African-type rear hump.
Cause of death
Despite intensive human care, Motty died of an umbilical infection 12 days after birth. The necropsy revealed death to be due to necrotizing enterocolitis and E. coli septicaemia. His body is preserved as a mounted specimen at the Natural History Museum, London.
There are unconfirmed rumours of three other hybrid elephants born in zoos or circuses; all are said to have been deformed and did not survive.
|Species:||Loxodonta africana × Elephas maximus|
Although the Asian elephant Elephas maximus and the African elephant Loxodonta africana belong to different genera, they share the same number of chromosomes, thus making hybridisation, at least in this respect, theoretically possible.
The fact that Motty was a male and at least viable to the late stages of pregnancy is significant; for why, see Haldane's rule. No details seem to be known about the development of his testicles however.