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Watching the ground-breaking Black Rhino research unfold last week, I was amazed at how the process of anesthetising a Rhino, moving her onto a makeshift table and then seeing the procedure take place to collect embryos was so seamlessly organised.  Every staff member knew their role from the bob-cat operator who gently lifted the animal right through to the Reproductive Biologist collecting the fluid which potentially contained embryos.   

During the two hours the procedure lasted Reproductive Specialists from the Berlin Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research able to successfully conduct the embryo flushing technique.  Whilst I was told this is a commonly used in cattle, sheep and horses it is the first time the technique was being used on a Rhino and if successful would allow female Rhinos which are unable to breed naturally to be represented in the zoo-based population in the future.

Following the collection of the fluid, staff raced back to the laboratory to search for embryos in the fluid using a microscope.  Whilst the team weren’t successful, they did learn more about the technique and will be able to use this information to adapt their technique for future attempts in the years to come.

Mandy – Zoo Communications

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