Cincinnati zoo trying to get brother and sister rhinos to mate to ‘help save the species‘
By Ashley Collman Daily Mail PUBLISHED: 22 July 2013
The zoo made the decision to mate 8-year-old Suci, with her 6-year-old brother Harapan following a recent crisis summit in Singapore.
Conservationists estimated that there were probably as few as 100 two horned, hairy rhinos in the wild in their native southeast Asia.
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Developments in their natural habitat have decreased the species numbers by up to 90 per cent since the mid-1980s.
The Sumatran Rhinos are also hunted by poachers for their prized horns which can go for tens of thousands of dollars on the black market.
The Cincinnati Zoo, which has led the way on keeping the species alive in North America decided that it was better to mate siblings than let the species die out altogether.
‘We don’t like to do it, and long term, we really don’t like to do it,’ said Dr Terri Roth, head of the zoo’s Center for Research and Endangered Wildlife in a report on WCPO. ‘When your species is almost gone, you just need animals and that matters more than genes right now – these are two of the youngest, healthiest animals in the population.’
Suci and Harapan have one other sibling – Andalas, the first calf bred in captivity in 112 years who was born in September 2001.
Andalas was moved to Indonesia last year in an attempt to introduce him to wild rhinos to mate with.
Anadalas successfully impregnated a wild rhino last year and became a father, but it’s become increasingly rare for these types of rhinos to produce offspring.
The animals seems uninterested in companionship or romance.
‘They’re definitely difficult to breed because they’re so solitary,’ Roth said. ‘You can’t just house them together. So the only time you can get a successful breeding is if you just put them together when the female is going to be receptive.’
If they fight or show aggressive behavior, the zoo team will try to separate them using bananas as bait.
If they are successful and the siblings do mate, a rhino calf will be born 16 months later.
Any genetic irregularities with the offspring of Suci and Harapan should be erased when bred with a non-relative rhino for the next generation.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2373135/Cincinnati-zoo-trying-brother-sister-rhinos-mate-help-save-species.html#ixzz2ZkrwARjO
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