Most of the projects described involve collaborators from multiple states/countries and institutions who work in the field of animal and/or human reproductive medicine and sciences. A major objective for all of the programs, particularly for the international projects, is to transfer skills and technology so that our collaborators in the range countries of the species of interest can continue research and development on their own with the Center for Conservation and Research staff serving in an advisory capacity after the initial training and preliminary studies.
The Center for Conservation and Research Reproductive Sciences Department, in collaboration with the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo's Veterinary and Animal Keeper Crews, has developed techniques such as artificial insemination and in vitro fertilization for many species and maintains a bank of more than 20,000 samples of frozen reproductive cells from over 50 species. This exceptional program helped produce the first test tube gaur and gorilla, and the first artificially inseminated and test tube tigers. Currently, the program is working in conjunction with the University of Nebraska Medical Center to develop recombinant tiger hormones to increase the efficiency of these procedures in endangered felid species. The program also produced the first artificially inseminated snake species, and continues leading assisted reproduction efforts in captive gorillas by utilizing sperm sex-sorting techniques in order to skew the sex ratio to produce more female offspring. Current efforts also include projects to develop assisted reproductive techniques in amphibian species. All of these projects include an endocrine (hormone monitoring) component, to diagnose pregnancy or assess the results of novel treatment protocols by measuring reproductive hormone metabolites in urine or feces.
The Reproductive Sciences Department's long-term program in South Africa is applying reproductive technology to a variety of indigenous species that include elephants, lions, buffalo and a variety of antelope species. The team has developed a dramatic new technology that removes disease-causing organisms from reproductive material which has been issued patents in the US, Australia and New Zealand, and is patent-pending in Canada and Europe. This new technology will not only benefit wildlife populations, by reducing the risk of disease transmission, but also livestock and humans.