Monday, April 23, 2012

Spike--Calgary Zoo

2010 New tusk cap's

"What job at the Calgary Zoo takes an eight-person zoo team, a machinist, a
welder, and a 10-tonne hoist on standby? Simple . . . giving our bull elephant
new tusk caps!" an August 6, 2010 News Release From the Calgary Zoo


 2007  Spike's first set of tusk cap's.

In late 2008 Spike, a 12,000 lb bull elephant at the Calgary Zoo, became entangled in a watering machine. While struggling to free himself, the impatient pachyderm broke his right tusk. It snapped off above a stainless steel cap, one of two that had been placed on Spike’s tusks six years prior.
The accident left Spike “a little lopsided,” says Brad Donaldson, dean of the school of manufacturing and automation at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary.

 Of greater concern was the threat of infection. Worried that the broken tusk might become abscessed and endanger Spike’s health, Calgary Zoo staff decided that a new dental cap was in order. For the sake of symmetry and balance, it was further decided to put new caps on both tusks, even though only one was broken.
Spike got his original set of caps in July 2002 after breaking his left tusk while rough-housing with a tire (his favourite play-toy). At the time, SAIT and other Alberta-area companies collaborated to create stainless steel tusk caps for the elephant. Following the second accident, the zoo again turned to SAIT Polytechnic.
A team led by SAIT was put together, to apply their diverse talents to the pachyderm problem. Everyone involved understood this was a volunteer effort; neither SAIT nor any of the companies they approached were paid for their labour or materials.

Local representatives from Florida-based Faro Technologies went to the zoo to make a surface scan of Spike’s tusks. Data gleaned from the scans was used to design the caps, a chore handled by SAIT using SolidWorks 3D CAD software. PolyWorks 3D metrology software (made by Quebec City-based firm, InnovMetric) was also employed to create computer-generated models of the caps.
The collaborative nature of this effort was further complicated by the unusual characteristics of the objects under construction.
“Because of the shape of the tusk, it’s got a bit of twisting and curving to it … you can’t model it very easily,” notes Donaldson.
SAIT also made wooden prototypes of the replacement caps. These prototypes were fitted on Spike, to make sure designers had the right dimensions.
When it came to machining the actual replacement caps, SAIT tapped Lab Machine Works, of Calgary. A small (1500 sq ft) CNC shop, Lab had helped make Spike’s original tusk caps back in 2002. A one-man operation run by former SAIT instructor Mike Desjardins, Lab’s equipment consists of a pair of Haas CNC machines. The company is licensed to use Mastercam CAD/CAM software and primarily does work in the energy sector.
For the Spike project, Alberta representatives from Sandvik Coromant donated a CoroMill 390 endmill and CoroMill 216F ball nose endmill for Desjardins to use at his shop. In addition, he received two huge pieces of grade 316 stainless steel courtesy of Encore Metals of Edmonton—one for each tusk cap. Said pieces weighed over 300 lb apiece.

 Desjardins had his work cut out for him: “One of the differences with this set of tusks from the first set was that this set are contoured … they are more realistic tusks than what Spike had before. Spike’s first tusks were straight tusks,” says Jim Cordoviz, Edmonton-based Alberta Team Leader for Sandvik Coromant.


Anonymous said...

My husband and I saw Spike while on a vacation to Calgary just after he got the original metal tusk. We heard all about what went into making it.
I love elephants and hated seeing he and the female elephants in such a small enclosure. It looks even smaller in person (referring to your photos in the other post). At the time, Spike was trying to mate with the females and they were trying to get away from him, but had no place to go. Imagine the children in the crowd asking what the big elephant was doing! I'll never forget that trip.
When we left the zoo, I told my husband the enclosure seemed awfully small and the elephants seemed so unhappy. But I wasn't sure if it was Spike's frustration with the females, the small enclosure, or the females wanting no part of mating!

Wade G. Burck said...

Thank you for your comment honest, insightful comment. Animal's mating at the zoo, or attempting to mate is a normal part of the "zoo experience." Animal's propagate, they don't make love. When an female is in estrous nothing, not even God almighty can stop the process if she is with a male. Imagine the plight of a wild animal trainer, in the midst of a performance with male and females, having to control that "urge" for 15 mins. or until the performance is ended, and the animals can "carry on."
You may have been "misinterpreting" what you were seeing in regards to the "females trying to get away from him, with no place to go."
It can take inexperienced males a bit of rooting around with the flexible penis before finding the vulva. As is well known, the elephant vulva is not located just beneath the tail as is the case in most mammals, but down on the ventral surface and well between the legs, meaning that the vagina is very long. This unusual position means that pregnancies are sometimes unnoticed and even that females have on occasion been mistakenly identified as male.

Why elephants are built like this has been a long standing question. In order for mating to be successful then, the penis has to be both long and flexible. Naturally S-curved (with the tip pointing upwards), it can be up to 1 m long (some sources say up to 1.5 m) and have a girth of 16 cm. It has a Y-shaped external urethal opening and is controlled by a large levator penis muscle. The clitoris is also large, at approximately 40 cm, and is manipulated by a levator clitoris muscle.
I disagree also with your assessment of the size of the of the enclosure. Some stallions will mate "like gentlemen," while others have to be collected on a phantom mare given they will savagely ravage a live mare during the mating process. There may have been a lot of "circumstances" going on that day, that you misinterpreted as "awfully small" "elephant's seemed so unhappy" "Spikes frustration" "females wanting no part of mating." Sometimes in the scheme of endangered species "females wanting no part of mating," is not an option offered to them.


Anonymous said...

I didn't expect such a vivid explanation. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the female elephants were running from Spike and there was no actual mating while we were listening to the trainer talk about the replacement tusk. Only Spike's erect penis and pre-ejaculate. I understand that I am in know way an animal expert (I just enjoy your blog), but I am a woman and I know a thing or two about not being in the mood, trust me - the mares were not. No, animals may not make love, but they might have "a headache" once in a while.
I'm not offended in the least to have you disagree with me. I admire your work with animals and as I've mentioned, enjoy your blog. I also have a blog and am an expert in absolutely nothing (but now maybe I am an expert on elephant clitorises (clitori?).
Kerry Faler

Wade G. Burck said...

Nothing vivid about it really. It is what it is, no kool aid served. People often times misunderstand animals, because they look at them through "their" eyes, in other words give them human emotions and thought patterns. If you do that you will always be led to the wrong conclusion. No, a female doesn't get a "headache." The bull elephant would knock the soup out of her the first time she pull that nonsense. That's not true, I just gave it human emotions/thought patterns and made that up. :) Reality is there is such a small, small window of opportunity for an animal to breed and impregnate a female when she is in estrous headache is not in their vernacular. She/he has no option or choice. The female comes into to heat whether she likes it or not. The male "senses" it, sight, smell, tactile and has no option but to slam it, sorry "human" again, reproduce with it. Sight and smell is self explanatory, tactile will often consist of a male animal "play fighting/showing aggression" to the female to test her response/reaction. The play fighting may also trigger estrous in a female so that breeding can commence. When it is over, it is over until the next cycle.
I am pleased you enjoy the blog. I am fortunate to have a boat load of expert's hanging around the page's who could probably answer any questions you may have. I love animal's, in particular the captive husbandry/training of animals with all my heart. Once I learned to accept them for what they are, instead of giving them human emotions, they quit disappointing me.