The Cincinnati Zoo’s Cat Ambassador Program has included domestic house cats in its programs for years. They participate in our Cheetah Encounter at the zoo and in the winter travel to local schools as part of our Zoo to You educational programming. The housecats help us to spread the message of responsible pet ownership and highlight how domestic cats are the only cats uniquely adapted to living in our homes. We also partner with The Joanie Bernard Foundation to help educate people about the importance of spaying and neutering and cat adoption.
Domestic cats are a highlight of our programming and always a favorite animal from our guests. That is why we are very excited to welcome the newest addition to the Cat Ambassador Program, Queen Elsa!
Thanks to the scientists at our Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) there is a special reason we named her Queen Elsa, because her father was frozen!
She was created by our scientists at CREW through oviductal artificial insemination with frozen-thawed 20-year-old semen. This is likely the oldest frozen-thawed sperm ever used in any felid species to produce kittens. This is exciting because it shows that frozen sperm can be used successfully for artificial insemination after a long time of being frozen.
According to CREW Postdoctoral Scientist, Raquel Gonzalez-Herrero, “CREW has been using this approach because of its applications to conservation of endangered species and certainly the domestic cat has been paving the way for the use of assisted reproductive techniques in non-domestic felids.”
Queen Elsa has been settling in well to her new home in a behind-the-scenes area at the Cat Ambassador Program. She spends most of her time snoozing, eating and getting acquainted with her new trainers. As she gets older we will slowly start introducing her to new environments and begin her training using operant learning techniques. We are hopeful that she will make some visits to schools over the winter and be a part of the Cheetah Encounter at the zoo next year!
Please help us welcome the newest member of our Cat Ambassador Program, little Queen Elsa!