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What does these two lion cubs make unique and extraordinary? “These are the first ever lion cubs to be born by means of artificial insemination — the first such pair anywhere in the world,” announced the University of Pretoria, whose scientists are researching the reproductive system of female African lions.
According to Andre Ganswindt, the director of the University of Pretoria’s mammal research institute, the two cubs, a male and female, born on August 25 and are healthy and normal.”We collected sperm from a healthy lion,” Ganswindt told AFP.
Then when the lioness’ hormone levels were found to be viable, she was inseminated artificially.
“And luckily it was successful,” said Ganswindt, adding that “there were several attempts, but surprisingly it didn’t take too much effort”.
The reason of artificial insemination is
- Lions are extinct in 26 African countries and numbers in the wild have plummeted 43 percent over the last two decades, with roughly only 20,000 left has stated the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which lists the African lion as vulnerable.
“If we are not doing something about it, they will face extinction,” said Ganswindt. The research was realized at the Ukutula Conservation Center, 80 kilometers (50 miles) northwest of Pretoria in South Africa’s North West province.
Imke Lueders said “having the first lion cubs ever born from artificial insemination in their natural range country, and not in a zoo overseas, is an important milestone for South Africa”. “Assisted reproduction techniques are another tool in our conservation box, of course not a sole solution, but another technology that we can use to protect endangered species,” she said.
And Mark Jones of the Born Free Foundation said “The captive lion breeding industry in South Africa is exploitative and profit-driven”.