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First Clouded Leopard Born using Artificial Insemination

3/20/17 9:41 AM

While viewers around the country anxiously await the arrival of April the giraffe's baby, another zoo is making headlines for delivering a baby of their own. On March first, the Nashville Zoo welcomed a male clouded leopard cub in a revolutionary way. Working with teams form the Smithsonian's National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute, the unnamed cub was the first of its species born via artificial insemination.

Clouded leopards have been listed as vulnerable on the IUCN Red List since 2008 as the global population continues to decrease. Researchers suspect there are fewer than 10,000 mature clouded leopards left in the wild. Unlike other animals, the species has difficulty breeding in captivity. Clouded leopards are sensitive to both auditory and visual disturbances, causing them to easily become stressed in captive breeding programs. In order to save the species, the Nashville Zoo decided to test artificial insemination, a first for the species.

After collecting semen from a male clouded leopard, the researchers preserved it cryogenically for a week. Once hormones were used to induce ovulation in the female clouded leopard, the semen was deposited using a new technique. The insemination was a success, and, after waiting for the full gestation period, typically around 90 days, the baby was born.

The success is a great accomplishment for those working on saving the species, “It means we can collect and preserve semen from clouded leopard populations around the globe and improve pregnancy outcomes from AI procedures in this species,” says Heather Robertson, director of veterinary services at the Nashville Zoo.

In order to ensure semen and other cryogenically preserved biologics are kept in safe temperatures, data loggers are used to monitor the entire storage process. For more information on cryogenic temperature monitoring, click here.

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