Birth of the world’s first test-tube lion cubs
Lioness gives birth to world’s first TEST-TUBE cubs as scientists claim incredible breakthrough could save endangered big cats
- Experts at the University of Pretoria pioneered the research into IVF for big cats,
- Two healthy cubs were born at the Ukutulu Conservation Centre in South Africa
- It could offer hope for saving species threatened by extinction, researchers say
- There are thought to be less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild in Asia for example
- In Africa there are 18,000 lions left in the wild thanks to conservation efforts
The birth of the world’s first test-tube lion cubs could mark an incredible breakthrough for saving highly endangered big cats, scientists say.
A lioness gave birth to two cubs in South Africa – a male and a female – created through artificial insemination.
The feat could offer hope for saving species like the tiger and the snow leopard who are threatened by extinction, researchers claim.
The birth of the world’s first test-tube lion cubs could mark an incredible breakthrough for saving highly endangered big cats, scientists say. A lioness gave birth to two cubs in South Africa – a male and a female – created through artificial insemination
A team of experts at the University of Pretoria pioneered the research into in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) for big cats.
They harvested the sperm of a male lion, which was placed inside the lioness and she gave birth to two healthy cubs three and a half months later.
Both cubs, who were born at the Ukutulu Game Reserve and Conservation Centre, have been given a clean bill of health.
Professor Andre Ganswindt of the University of Pretoria Mammal Research Institute said: ‘There are tremendous threats to wildlife due to the loss of habitat and other pressures created by human activities which also affect big cats.
‘That is why a number of species are listed as vulnerable or endangered but this research could combat the threat of extinction facing several types of big cat around the world’.
- Facebook should face new laws over its ‘deliberate failure… Stunning 13th century tiled floor that has not been seen for… Scientists begin hunt for a door into the ‘dark sector’ of… Hunt for alien life takes a huge step forward as researchers…
Share this article
The feat could offer hope for saving species like the tiger and the snow leopard, researchers claim. This image shows one of the cubs yawning
Professor Andre Ganswindt of the University of Pretoria Mammal Research Institute said: ‘There are tremendous threats to wildlife due to the loss of habitat and other pressures created by human activities which also affect big cats’. This image shows the same cub as above
Both cubs, who were born at the Ukutulu Game Reserve and Conservation Centre, have been given a clean bill of health
The South African study examined artificial insemination protocols for the female African lion, but the research could be used as a baseline for other endangered large wild feline species.
Professor Ganswindt said this research was carried out as a pre-emptive measure to ensure techniques were developed before a big cat species was critically endangered.
He said: ‘To have the opportunity to stabilise populations even with artificial breeding you have to have the necessary techniques well ahead of the time when it necessary.
‘That is why you cannot develop these techniques on a critically endangered species.
‘In South Africa we have a relatively stable lion population and that allows us to use lions as the forefront species to collect the knowledge for techniques to be used on endangered species’.
Experts harvested the sperm of a male lion, which was placed inside the lioness mother (pictured) and she gave birth to the two healthy cubs three and a half months later
This image shows the lioness having ultra sound scan. Dr Imke Luders (left) is part of the team from the University of Pretoria and Dr Isabela Callealta (right) had one of the lion cub ‘s named after her
The project’s main researcher Dr Isabel Callealta said: ‘The next step is to continue looking for the right protocols for the large feline species which is good news for endangered big cats.
‘This was a world first for lions and now we start a journey and the idea is to improve or knowledge and understanding of the big cats and move the research quickly forward.
‘The research will hopefully mean we can start working towards carrying out similar procedures on some of the much rarer big cats like the snow leopard and the tiger in the future’.
The owner of Ukutulu Game Reserve and Conservation Centre Willi Jacobs, 60, added: ‘Lionesses have between one and four cubs and our lioness gave birth to two so that was very normal.
‘They are both absolutely perfect cubs in every way and we decided to honour the researcher Isabella by naming the female cub after her and the male cub after her fiancé Victor.
‘When they are big enough they will be introduced to the other lions but that will be some time yet but meanwhile they are happy and healthy and playful and leading us a merry dance.
‘This research although done on lions will benefit all the highly or critically endangered species in the world and will benefit so many types of big cat close to the danger of extinction’.
Ukutula, in conjunction with University of Pretoria and international researchers, established the conservation centre, laboratory and biobank at the beginning of 2017 for scientific research.
There are thought to be less than 4,000 tigers left in the wild in Asia and less than 7,000 snow leopards in the mountains of Central Asia and as few as 300 Iberian Lynx in Spain.
In Africa there are 18,000 lions left in the wild thanks to successful conservation and breeding.
HOW DOES ARTIFICIAL INSEMINATION WORK?
Researchers in Illinois recently used an artificial insemination procedure to, hopefully, impregnate a wolf (file photo)
Artificial insemination is among the slew of new reproductive medicine techniques that has come out recently.
Human couples who opt for the technology see specialists who use ultrasounds, blood tests or ovulation kits to check to see if a woman is ovulating at the time of her procedure.
A sample of sperm is then required from the woman’s chosen donor; the doctor puts the sample in a catheter that is threaded through the woman’s vagina and cervix before reaching her uterus.
The success rate for the procedure varies. The following can affect the chances a woman has of becoming pregnant thanks to artificial insemination:
- the woman’s age
- the quality of the sperm and egg
- a condition called endometriosis
- fallopian tube damage
- fallopian tube blockage
Scientists near Chicago recently tried to use artificial insemination technology to impregnate a wolf.
Their hope is that the technology can revive the species, which has been considered endangered since 1976.
Source: Read Full Article