Initially, zoo-based research was dominated by considerations of husbandry, but more recently new ideas, particularly the use advanced imaging techniques combined with assisted reproduction technologies (ART) have been incorporated. Progressive global habitat destruction and fragmentation is causing dramatic population declines and even the extinction of many threatened species. The complex management of captive populations involves the maximization of genetic variation. Thus requires the exchange of individuals between breeding institutions. In general, animal movements include a (i) high risk of disease transmission, (ii) stress-induced infertility or partner incompatibility as well as (iii) high financial and logistic efforts. The use of ART eliminates the problems of distance and time.
However, there are several operative problems before ART can be successfully applied in non-domestic species. Due to unknown reproductive status and often incomplete knowledge of the reproductive anatomy imaging modalities play a crucial role in the process of development new ART technologies as well as in the selection process of the best potential breeding partners.
Main imaging techniques applied are ultrasonography and computed tomography besides thermography and MRI. Our patient sizes range from several tons (elephants, rhinos) to few grams (shrew) requiring scan frequencies of 2.0 to 80 MHz. They can live in water (moray eel, dolphins) or underground (naked mole rats) and need environmental temperatures during the screening procedures ranging from 10° to 30° Celsius (tuatara, desert varanus). Customized equipment originally developed for human beings or livestock cant directly applied to exotic species. The priority for the development of novel ART instruments and technologies should focus mainly on non-invasive or minimal-invasive procedures. In this context it is important that ART procedures correspond with the general guidelines of animal welfare.
11 Jul 2016 - 11 Jul 2016