To save wild canids, start with a puppy

CORNELL (US) — Scientists report the western hemisphere’s first dog born from a frozen embryo, an advance that could help save endangered species.

Now nine months old, Klondike is a beagle-Labrador retriever mix, and although neither of those breeds is endangered, this frozen embryo technique is one of many reproductive technologies that can be used to conserve wild canids, such as the red wolf.

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Klondike’s mother, a beagle, was fertilized using artificial insemination. The resulting embryos were collected and frozen until Klondike’s surrogate mother, also a beagle, was ready to receive the embryo.

Conducted by researchers at Cornell University’s Baker Institute for Animal Health and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the process of freezing materials such as fertilized eggs—cryopreservation—provides researchers with a tool to repopulate endangered species.

Because dogs cycle are able to sustain a pregnancy only once or twice a year, being able to freeze canine embryos is especially important to coordinate timing for transfer into the surrogates.

“Reproduction in dogs is remarkably different than in other mammals,” says Alex Travis, faculty member and director of Cornell’s campus-wide Center for Wildlife Conservation. “We’re working to understand these differences so we can tackle issues ranging from developing contraceptives to preserving the genetic diversity of endangered animals through assisted reproduction.”

The National Institutes of Health, Cornell’s Baker Institute, and the Smithsonian Institution partly funded the research.

Source: Cornell University