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A pregnant Southern White Rhino in the USA could save the subspecies!

White Rhino

A California zoo has impregnated a Southern White Rhino through artificial insemination in the hopes of saving the northern white rhino using the same method.

 

Victoria, a Southern White Rhino living at the San Diego Zoo in the USA has been successfully impregnated using artificial insemination. This is a massive win for the science behind saving near-extinct animals.

The main reason this success is so exciting is that the science can hopefully be applied to the two remaining female Northen White Rhinos (pictured above). In March of this year, the world mourned the loss of Sudan, the last Northern White Rhino.

Sudan passed away after being in poor health. He was euthanised after his condition severely deteriorated. The vet on-hand, gave him the ability to drift off in peace and managed to save some genetic material from the rhino.

“He was a gentle giant, his personality was just amazing and given his size, a lot of people were afraid of him. But there was nothing mean about him,” – Elodie Sampere, a representative for Ol Pejeta.

Currently, there are two female Northern White Rhino, both of whom are Sudan’s direct descendants. His daughter and granddaughter. Ol Pejeta shared a tweet detailing how they hope to continue the species. The hope is that surrogate females will be artificially inseminated with semen from other northern white rhinos.

“The only hope for the preservation of this subspecies now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques using eggs from the two remaining females, stored northern white rhino semen from males and surrogate southern white rhino females.”

The spark of hope has been reignited with the success of Victoria’s pregnancy.

“The pregnancy, created through artificial insemination with sperm from a male southern white rhino, is an important milestone in the ongoing work to develop the scientific knowledge required to genetically recover the northern white rhino, a distant subspecies of the southern white rhino,” officials at the San Diego Institute for Conservation Research said in a statement.

The process will take a long time. The zoo wants to see what occurs during the pregnancy and if the embryo will lead to the birth of a healthy calf. This method has rarely been attempted in zoos so the science is still being tested. Should all go according to plan, the world could witness the birth of a Northern White Rhino within the next 10 to 15 years.

“One of the first steps involves sequencing the genome of the northern white rhino to clarify the extent of genetic divergence from its closest relative, the southern white rhino,” the statement said.

The statement also added that another step requires the conversion of cells preserved from 12 individual northern white rhinos to stem cells that could develop into sperm and eggs.

“This work also may be applied to other rhino species, including critically endangered Sumatran and Javan rhinos.”

We look forward to finding out more about this process in the future. We are hopeful that this is not the end of Sudan’s legacy.


Sources: The Citizen
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Tyler Vivier
Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy. Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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