"The team needs to act fast to gain access to the bull's penis before it retracts back into its sheath" is the first thing you hear in the preview above for the new PBS series Sex in the Wild, which premieres Wednesday. And that's all you need to know about whether or not this clip is for you, because really it is all about gaining access to a four-ton elephant's penis. And extracting sperm from it, while the elephant dozes gently. And measuring it (1 meter, 40 centimeters). And its "natural searching response," which causes it to jump like a fire hose being turned on. And stimulating the elephant's prostate.
The shot above comes from photographer Michael Nichols' photoessay on the New York Times' Lens blog, "Documenting Elephants’ Compassion, and Their Slaughter." Nichols spent 20 years in the Central African Republic documenting the lives of elephants. Many of his photos appeared in National Geographic, and they're collected in the new book Earth to Sky: Among Africa’s Elephants, a Species in Crisis.
We may never know if the person who fired his gun into the BancorpSouth Arena parking lot in Tupelo, Mississippi at 2 a.m. Tuesday morning intended to hit the circus elephant traveling there while on tour with a Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show. We may never know if the shooter, in the heat of the moment, mistook the elephant (Carol) for a much smaller human-sized human with whom he was having a personal conflict. We may never know what the elephant—an honor student, active in her church choir, well-liked and respected by her peers—was doing in the shadowy parking lot so late at night. (Probably just resting.)
Finally, the definitive image of the Newt Gingrich 2012 presidential run has emerged: Callista Gingrich, sitting opposite an elephant furry, selling propaganda to children.
Sarah — a 54-year-old Asian elephant performer in the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus with a known history of poor health — was filmed by animal rights activists collapsing onto her side as she boarded her boxcar after a performance in Anaheim, Ca.
A new study by the University of Pennsylvania suggests elephants are even smarter and more socially complex than previously thought. The conventional wisdom was that elephants lived in small herds that centered around females, while the males wandered independently. The new study shows that the herds are actually interconnected social groups who "track one another over large distances by calling to each other and using their sense of smell," according to Dr. Shermin de Silva.
Start your morning by watching two resident baby elephants Baylor and Tupelo play in a Kiddie pool at the Houston Zoo.