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SOS Rhino : In the News : Reproductive world first for zoo

Reproductive world first for zoo

Wednesday, 11 October 2006
Daily Liberal

A miracle of science has occurred at Western Plains Zoo. A group of Berlin reproductive experts and Western Plains Zoo veterinarians have performed a world first by successfully harvesting eggs from a black rhinoceros for the purpose of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). During their fourth visit to Dubbo the leading international authorities decided to take a different approach in their attempt to preserve the genetic potential of 'Musi', an infertile black rhinoceros at Western Plains Zoo. Since collection from Musi on Sunday, the eggs have undergone a maturation process in the zoo's reproductive laboratory - the first crucial steps towards successful IVF in megafauna. "We have achieved more than we hoped to achieve this trip," leading international reproduction authority Dr Thomas Hildebrant said. "There is still a considerable way to go but we've come so far". As he stood outside the black rhinoceros enclosure at Western Plains Zoo yesterday, Dr Hildebrant said human society had a task to help save the extremely endangered species. "They are not dying out due to the failed concept of evolution," he said. "They are dying out because of poaching and their extinction is directly linked to human activity". Despite working in zoos all over the world, nothing has compared to the facilities at the Western Plains Zoo, he said "The best conditions for moving the animal and performing a safe procedure is here in Dubbo." The zoo's senior veterinarian Benn Bryant said he was "very excited" by the team's success. "There are some significant projects and works happening behind the scenes at Western Plains Zoo and the rhino's reproductive programs are among the most important". Western Plains Zoo is home to 12 black rhinoceros and the breeding program for this highly endangered species has produced 10 calves in the past 10 years. The availability of IVF technology is vital to ensure the viability of the international captive breeding program.

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