Animal magic! Ohio Zoo makes history with the world’s FIRST cheetah cubs born through IVF using a surrogate in a bid to help save the declining species

  • Two cubs were born in on Feb. 19th through in vitro fertilization in Ohio
  • The team inseminated a cheetah that is younger than than the biological mom
  • Both are said to have genes valuable to helping cheetahs survive 
  • The eggs were fertilized with two males from different conservation facilities 

Cheetahs are in danger of extinction, but experts have demonstrated a ‘scientific marvel’ that could stop this tragedy from happening.

Two cheetah cubs were born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.

The cubs, one female and one male, were delivered on February 19th by their birth mother Isabelle.

Cheetahs Kibibi, the biological mother and Isabella received hormone injections to stimulate follicle development and their eggs were fertilized with semen originally collected early last year from two males.

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Cheetahs are in danger of extinction, but experts have demonstrated a 'scientific marvel' that could stop this tragedy from happening. Two cheetah cubs were born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

Cheetahs are in danger of extinction, but experts have demonstrated a ‘scientific marvel’ that could stop this tragedy from happening. Two cheetah cubs were born through in vitro fertilization and embryo transfer into a surrogate mother at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

This is the third attempt by scientists to successful inseminate and produce healthy cubs.

Dr. Randy Junge, the Columbus Zoo’s Vice President of Animal Health, said: ‘These two cubs may be tiny but they represent a huge accomplishment, with expert biologists and zoologists working together to create this scientific marvel.’

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‘This achievement expands scientific knowledge of cheetah reproduction, and may become an important part of the species’ population management in the future.’

The team has noted that Kibbi, which is six and a half years old, and Isabella, which is 9 years old, have genes that are valuable in maintaining a strong lineage of cheetahs in human care.

The cubs, one female and one male, were delivered on February 19th by their birth mother Isabelle (pictured)

The cubs, one female and one male, were delivered on February 19th by their birth mother Isabelle (pictured)

The team has noted that Kibbi (pictured), which is six and a half years old, and Isabella, which is 9 years old, have genes that are valuable in maintaining a strong lineage of cheetahs in human care

The team has noted that Kibbi (pictured), which is six and a half years old, and Isabella, which is 9 years old, have genes that are valuable in maintaining a strong lineage of cheetahs in human care

Eggs from both females were extracted and fertilized in a Columbus Zoo laboratory using thawed semen originally collected in February 2019 from two cheetahs: a male from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and another from SCBI.

The early stage embryos from Kibibi were then implanted into Isabella.

And then about a month later, an ultrasound revealed two fetuses were growing inside of Isabella – the father of the cubs is 3-year-old Slash from Fossil Rim Wildlife Center.

Jason Ahistus, Fossil Rim Wildlife Center Carnivore Curator, said: ‘I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment.’

‘It gives the cheetah conservation community another tool to use in cheetah management, both in situ and ex situ.’

The early stage embryos from Kibibi were then implanted into Isabella

The early stage embryos from Kibibi were then implanted into Isabella

Then about a month later, an ultrasound revealed two fetuses were growing inside of Isabella

Then about a month later, an ultrasound revealed two fetuses were growing inside of Isabella

‘It really opens the door to many new opportunities that can help the global cheetah population. This is a big win for the cheetah.’

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies cheetahs as ‘Vulnerable,’ with a decreasing population trend in their native Africa.

Threats like habitat loss and fragmentation, conflict with livestock and game farmers, as well as unregulated tourism has left these animals with just 10 percent of their habitat.

Scientists estimate the population has declined to only about 7,500, and activists and experts are now petitioning for them to be added to the endangered list.

 



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