Human Fertility Treatments Help Give Rhinos a Leg Up

Article excerpt

Byline: LYNNE KELLEHER

THEIR horns are supposed to have amazing aphrodisiac effects, but Dublin Zoo is having to use human fertility treatments to help their rhinos conceive.

Artificial insemination and hormone treatment are two of the 21st Century fertility practices being used to help the female rhinos become pregnant.

In 2008, rhino Ashanti gave birth to a female calf called Zuki but the other two females in the herd, Zanta and Leni, have yet to become mothers.

White rhinos are prone to fertility problems so now vets are turning to human medical methods like hormone treatment and IVF.

One of the world leading experts on rhino fertility, Robert Hermes, has travelled to Dublin Zoo to carry out ultrasounds and electro-ejaculation on the herd of southern white rhinos.

African Plains headkeeper Helen Clarke-Bennett said: "We have a young female who has never shown any signs of coming in oestrus, meaning that she is ready to mate.

"We have an old female who regularly comes in oestrus, but neither male has been able to get her pregnant.

"As female rhinos get older they run into terrible problems within their reproductive tract. Therefore at this moment time is of an essence. " German zoologist Robert Hermes said: "The first thing we look at is the male. …