Zoo artificially fertilises rhino egg
Published: June 9, 2008 | 7150th good news item since 2003
An Australian zoo on Friday said it had artificially fertilised a rhinoceros egg in a breakthrough that could be used in the future to ensure the critically endangered animal’s survival.
Biologists succeeded in fertilising the egg of a female black rhinoceros with sperm from a male after several failed attempts. The procedure was carried out at Taronga Western Plains Zoo in the New South Wales town of Dubbo, about 300 kilometres (186 miles) west of Sydney, with the help of experts from Berlin’s Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Biologist Tamara Keeley said despite the team’s success, the technology to implant the egg into a female to carry it for the 14-month gestation period did not yet exist. Instead, any viable embryos created would be preserved in liquid nitrogen until the technology to carry out rhino in-vitro fertilisation catches up. “This embryo, we’re hoping, will continue to develop and if it develops enough, we’ll actually freeze it and keep it frozen until we’ve developed the technology that we need to transfer it back into a rhino and possibly produce a rhino calf,” Keeley told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Scientists said the breakthrough could keep genetic diversity alive in the animals, of which only 3,725 survive in the wild, and help assisted reproduction in other rhino species.