Week 7: Environmental News

They’re a scientific marvel- World’s first in vitro cheetah cubs born at Ohio zoo

https://www.They’re a ‘scientific marvel’: World’s first in vitro cheetah cubs born at Ohio zoousatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/02/24/vitro-cheetah-cubs-worlds-first-born-columbus-zoo/4856829002/

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Female cheetah- Izzy- and her in vitro offspring at the Columbus Zoo

The first cheetah cubs ever conceived through in vitro fertilization were born last Monday at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The two cubs, a male and a female, were born to a first-time mother, Izzy, at the Columbus Zoo. However, she is not their biological mother. Their mother is Kibibi, a 6-and-a-half-year-old cheetah also located at the Columbus Zoo. Kibibi has never reproduced and is too old to reproduce naturally now, and researchers were concerned about losing important genes in the species gene pool. As a result, in vitro fertilization was done.

Biologists from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia fertilized the eggs obtained from Kibibi in a laboratory. The eggs were incubated, and embryos were created, which they then successfully implanted into Izzy.

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Example of the process of IVF in animals

This scientific development is a huge milestone, as it helps maintain genetic diversity, which ultimately keeps offspring healthy. In vitro fertilization has only been attempted 3 times in cheetahs and has already been successful. This plan to maintain a diverse genetic population could help combat a decline in genetic diversity in the future as a result of the decreasing population of cheetahs in the wild. Cheetahs are currently considered vulnerable, with only about 7,500 animals left in the wild, and they only inhabit approximately 10% of their native historic habitat in Africa. This breakthrough discovery at the Columbus Zoo helps ensure the potential of survival of this species the wild.

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