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First rhino baby conceived by artificial insemination died


The first rhino ever conceived by artificial insemination has died in the womb a few hours before its birth. The death occurred on August 9 in the Budapest Zoo. The mother of the unborn rhino, Lulu (aged 25), had suffered from uterine bleedings. The reason for the complication was presumably a partial separation of the placenta 12 hours prior to birth, says scientist Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt of the Berlin-based Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW). He and his colleagues from the IZW had developed the method for artificial insemination of rhinos. Unfortunately, this type of birth-complication is quite common, says Dr. Hildebrandt. According to the scientist, the artificial insemination had nothing to do with the misscariage. Hildebrandt: “The 16 months long pregnancy was monitored by ultrasound and appeared to be normal.”

However, although the calf died, its mother benefits from the pregnancy. If rhinos don not get pregnant at all, the uterus starts to develop irreversible pathologies like cysts and tumours. As the first ever successful artificial insemination of a rhino worldwide had lead to the first full-term pregnancy, it stopped the uterine degeneration process. The scientists will try to repeat the artificial insemination as soon as possible.

The succussful artificial insemination has far reaching implications on the conservation of highly endangered rhino species.

The method was developed and performed by a team of experts, consisting of Dr. Thomas Hildebrandt, Dr. Robert Hermes und Dr. Frank Göritz (all from IZW), hormone specialist Prof. Franz Schwarzenberger (University of Vienna), anaesthesiologist Dr. Chris Walzer (University of Vienna), the A. Schnorrenberg Incorporation (Berlin). Also, the zoo veterinarians at the Budapest Zoo played an important role. The head veterinarian and deputy director, Dr. Endre Sós, and the zoo veterinarians Drs. László Mezösi and Victor Molnár were responsible for the logistic preparation of the artificial insemination and for the health of Lulu during the operation.

Josef Zens | alfa
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