For more than 20 years, Dr. Bill Swanson (CREW’s Director of Animal Research) has been working in Brazil to conserve Latin American felids (animals in the cat family). I was fortunate to get to travel with him to Associação Mata Ciliar (AMC), a non-profit organization that promotes the conservation of over 300 plant and animal species. AMC’s Centro Brasileiro para a Conservação Dos Felinos Neotropicalis (Brazilian Neo-Tropical Feline Conservation Center) is the largest feline conservation center in the country, which houses eight of the ten cats endemic to Latin America. Habitat loss and poaching have threatened most of these species with extinction in all or part of their natural ranges. Specifically, we’ve come to AMC to work with jaguars and tigrinas, but more on that later.
The Associação Mata Ciliar is a non-profit organization founded in 1987 dedicated to developing projects for conservation. CREW has been partnering with AMC for 16 years to conserve Latin American Felids.
The eight wild cat species of Brazil. (photos: Associação Mata Ciliar):
Also under the AMC umbrella is the Centro de Reabilitação de Animais Silvestres (Wildlife Animals Rehabilitation Center), offering medical treatment and care to injured wildlife from all over the São Paulo region. Many of the injuries are the result of vehicle strikes, wildfires, or hunting. Other animals come to the center because they were confiscated from wildlife traffickers. AMC gives these animals a chance to return to their natural habitat and contribute to the survival of their species, a powerful tool for the imperiled wildlife of Brazil.
Stay tuned for more updates from Brazil!
AMC often cares for wild-born kittens that are confiscated from wildlife traffickers or displaced from their homes due to habitat loss.
February 9, 2016 2 Comments
With a history of verified results from collaborative research, CREW scientists understand the importance of developing
scientific capacity within individuals and organizations throughout North America to overcome the serious loss of
genetic diversity facing captive African and Asian rhino populations.
In the first year of a three-year National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), CREW
has begun building a Rhino Assisted Reproduction Enterprise (RARE) in collaboration with SeaWorld Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center and several other zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. These zoos contribute the veterinary and rhino keeper staff time needed to learn and implement rhino assisted reproductive techniques,
with the necessary training, tools and laboratory support provided by CREW.
One objective of the grant is to contribute to the genetic management and propagation of captive Indian rhinos through artificial insemination (AI). Although AI in Indian rhinos is still a work in progress, the achievements made during CREW’s initial 8-year effort are impressive with six conceptions and four term calves produced. Because there is a steep learning curve to these procedures, we are hopeful that success will become even more common over time. Participating zoos agree to collect and ship rhino urine samples on a frequent basis to CREW for hormone analysis needed to time AI. Rhino keeper staff at each facility condition females to enter a chute for the purpose of performing AI and the standing sedation protocol already established for successful intrauterine AI in this species is implemented prior to expected ovulation date. Each facility observes one AI before performing the next AI under CREW supervision.
We are happy to report that the Denver Zoo team is now fully trained in Indian rhino AI and is performing procedures in house using sperm from CREW’s CryoBioBank. Our long-term commitment to rhino conservation has positioned us to respond to the growing need of zoos to build their capacity for assisted reproductive technology for rhinos. We are gladly meeting this challenge and enjoying establishing a network of RARE researchers united for a common cause – to save rhinos. A RARE endeavor indeed.
February 8, 2016 2 Comments
The Sumatran rhino is considered the most endangered of all rhino species and perhaps the most endangered large mammal on Earth. It is estimated that no more than 100 animals exist on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The Zoo has worked for more than 30 years to save this species from extinction. Scientific breakthroughs by scientists at the Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) resulted in the birth of three calves at the Zoo, the first place to successfully breed this critically endangered species in captivity in over a century.
By 2014, only one Sumatran rhino remained in the Western hemisphere, a lone male named Harapan. With no chance to bring a female to the United States, the Zoo made the difficult yet significant decision to send Harapan to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia and transported him there in late October. There he will have the chance to mate and contribute to the survival of his species. It is the end of an era at the Cincinnati Zoo, but a fresh new hope for the Sumatran rhino. The Cincinnati Zoo remains committed to saving the Sumatran rhino by supporting Rhino Protection Units in the wild and continuing to lend support to the breeding program at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
Join me in a celebration of the milestones achieved by the Zoo’s Sumatran rhino breeding program over the past 30 years, with special thanks to the tireless dedication and commitment of Dr. Terri Roth, her team of CREW scientists, and the rhino keepers.
Sumatran Rhino Breeding Program Timeline
1984 – The Zoo officially formed a partnership (The Sumatran Rhino Trust Agreement) with Indonesia to establish a Sumatran rhino captive breeding program.
1989 – The Zoo received its first Sumatran rhino, a female named Mahatu.
1991 – The Zoo received its first male Sumatran rhino, Ipuh. Unfortunately, initial breeding attempts with Mahatu were unsuccessful and she passed away in 1992.
1995 – The Zoo received a new female Sumatran rhino named Emi.
1996 – CREW scientists initiated research into the reproductive physiology of Sumatran rhinos using endocrinology and ultrasonography.
1997 – The first successful mating was achieved with Emi and Ipuh. Unfortunately, she lost the pregnancy by day 42 of gestation.
1998-1999 – Four additional pregnancies were confirmed by ultrasound; all were lost by three months of gestation.
2000 – A sixth pregnancy was confirmed. This time, Emi was prescribed a hormone supplement.
September 13, 2001 – Success! Emi gave birth to the first Sumatran rhino calf bred and born in captivity in 112 years. He was named Andalas.
July 30, 2004 – Emi gave birth to a second calf, a female named Suci.
February 19, 2007 – Andalas was relocated to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia with the goal of breeding with a female there.
April 29, 2007 – A third calf, a male named Harapan, was born at the Zoo to Emi.
September 5, 2009 – Sadly, Emi passed away due to hemochromatosis, or iron storage disease. Her legacy lives on.
2010 – Andalas bred his mate, Ratu, producing the first pregnancy for the Indonesian breeding program. Unfortunately, Ratu lost her first pregnancy.
2011 – Ratu conceived for the third time and was prescribed the same hormone supplement successfully employed with Emi at the Cincinnati Zoo in the effort to produce Andalas.
June 23, 2012 – Ratu gave birth to a calf named Andatu at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary; he is the first captive bred and born Sumatran rhino in Southeast Asia.
February 2013 – Ipuh passes away from thyroid cancer at the approximate age of 33 years old. He was one of the oldest Sumatran rhinos in captivity.
March 30, 2014 – Sadly, Suci passes away from hemochromatosis, the same iron storage disease that befell her mother. Though Suci never reproduced, she contributed much to the body of knowledge we now have on Sumatran rhino development and maturation.
October 2014 – To carry on Ipuh’s legacy, his preserved remains are displayed at the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the zoology collection.
2014 – The Zoo provided matching funds that contributed to a Debt for Nature deal struck between the United States and Indonesia. In return for lowering debt owed to the United States, Indonesia will commit nearly $12.7 million towards the conservation and protection of critically endangered species, including the Sumatran rhino, and their habitats over the next seven years.
October 2015 – Harapan made his journey from the Cincinnati Zoo to Sumatra. The hope is that he can breed with a female at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary and contribute to the survival of his species. Good luck, Harry! Video of Harapan’s journey to Sumatra.
May 2016 – Expected birth date of Andalas and Ratu’s second calf in Indonesia!
December 1, 2015 No Comments