First live rhinoceros birth from frozen-thawed semen

Nov 13, 2008

There may be less than 20,000 rhinoceros in the world, with one species perhaps already extinct and another with possibly only four animals remaining in the wild. As the populations of these animals age and become infirm, successful breeding becomes increasingly difficult. In an article scheduled for publication in Theriogenology, An International Journal of Animal Reproduction, researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin, Zoo Budapest and the University of Veterinary Medicine, Vienna, report on the first live birth of a rhinoceros resulting from artificial insemination (AI) with frozen and thawed semen.

Using semen collected from a 35-36 year-old Southern white rhinoceros, frozen for 2 to 3 years and then thawed, a 30 year old female rhinoceros was artificially inseminated in two attempts. The first failed, but the second resulted in pregnancy and the birth of a healthy offspring. At the time of conception, the female was housed at the Budapest Zoo in Hungary and the male donor in Colchester Zoo in the United Kingdom.

Techniques for AI in rhinoceros have improved in recent years and the first live birth by AI occurred in 2007. However, that instance used fresh semen from a male rhinoceros in the same zoo, limiting the widespread use of the technique. By demonstrating that frozen semen could be thawed and used to successfully inseminate a female at a remote location, the researchers have opened a new avenue to the preservation of endangered species. Semen samples can be collected and preserved from both wild and captive populations to maintain a genome resource bank and to boost reproduction in these megaherbivores.

Writing in the article, Dr. Robert Hermes, Med. Vet., and colleagues state, "This achievement joins a fairly short list of fewer than 30 wildlife species, most of which are closely related to domestic species, in which artificial insemination with frozen-thawed semen has been successful in producing live offspring. The use of frozen-thawed semen holds great potential as a means to overcome the crisis most captive and wild rhinoceros populations are facing in various ways."

The article is "First successful artificial insemination with frozen-thawed semen in Rhinoceros" by R. Hermes, F. Göritz, J. Saragusty, E. Sós, V. Molnar, C. E. Reid, F. Schwarzenberger, and T. B. Hildebrandt. It appears in Theriogenology: An International Journal of Animal Reproduction, DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.theriogenology.2008.10.008

Source: Elsevier

Explore further: New class of insecticides offers safer, more targeted mosquito control

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Scientists discover new 'transformer frog' in Ecuador

13 hours ago

It doesn't turn into Prince Charming, but a new species of frog discovered in Ecuador has earned the nickname "transformer frog" for its ability to change its skin from spiny to smooth in five minutes.

Longer DNA fragments reveal rare species diversity

14 hours ago

A challenge in metagenomics is that the more commonly used sequencing machines generate data in short lengths, while short-read assemblers may not be able to distinguish among multiple occurrences of the ...

Scientists say polar bears won't thrive on land food

14 hours ago

A group of researchers say polar bears forced off melting sea ice will not find enough food to replace their current diet of fat-laden marine mammals such as seals, a conclusion that contradicts studies indicating ...

The vital question: Why is life the way it is?

15 hours ago

The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? is a new book by Nick Lane that is due out on April 23rd. His question is not one for a static answer but rather one for a series of ever sharper explanations—explanations that a ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.