AboutZoos, Since 2008


Birth­day of first Przewalski’s horse born by arti­fi­cial insemination

pub­lished 14 August 2014 | mod­i­fied 14 August 2014

Przewalski mare and foalSci­en­tists at the Smith­son­ian Con­ser­va­tion Biol­ogy Insti­tute in Front Royal, (US, Vir­ginia) are cel­e­brat­ing the anniver­sary of the first birth of a Przewalski’s horse by arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion. The filly’s first birth­day marks a mile­stone in efforts by the team, lead by repro­duc­tive phys­i­ol­o­gist Bud­han Pukazhen­thi, to develop genetic tech­niques to aid in man­ag­ing this species, which is extinct in the wild.

Przewalski’s horses are an entirely dif­fer­ent species from the domes­tic horse and are truly wild, hav­ing never been domes­ti­cated by humans. Cap­tive breed­ing and con­ser­va­tion work in Asia, Europe and North Amer­ica have suc­cess­fully replen­ished the cap­tive population.

Micaela Jemi­son from Smith­son­ian Sci­ence talks to Pukazhen­thi and ani­mal keeper Dolores Reed about the arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion pro­gram that lead to the birth of the spe­cial filly:

(Source: Smith­son­ian YouTube channel)

As with many cap­tive breed­ing pro­grams, genet­ics drive breed­ing deci­sions. With hun­dreds of horses liv­ing around the world, often two genet­i­cally com­pat­i­ble breed­ing part­ners will be liv­ing in dif­fer­ent facil­i­ties, some­times on dif­fer­ent con­ti­nents. Arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion would help sci­en­tists solve the prob­lems of dis­tance and cost in try­ing to breed indi­vid­u­als from around the world to obtain genet­i­cally diverse offspring.

The birth of the filly on July 26, 2013 marks the first suc­cess along the long road of per­fect­ing arti­fi­cial insem­i­na­tion tech­niques for this species.

(Source: Smith­son­ian Sci­ence research news, 25.07.2014)

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