Cheetah Embryos Produced and Frozen in Namibia

The successful production of the embryos may help preserve the world's cheetah population.

Posted: November 17 2007 2 a.m. EDT

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Cheetah Embryos Produced and Frozen in Namibia
By developing cheetah embryos using in vitro fertilization, researchers hope to contribute to the successful breeding of cheetahs in captivity.
Developed using in vitro fertilization, the first-ever early stage Cheetah embryos were produced and frozen at the Cheetah Conservation Fund International Research and Education Centre in Namibia, Africa, with the assistance of scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and the University of California, Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, according to the university.

The cheetahs’ numbers are threatened due to a variety of factors including loss of habitat, lack of genetic diversity due to inbreeding (making them more susceptible to disease) and hunters who kill the big cat and kill the cats’ prey — causing a shortage in the big cats’ food supply, according to The World Conservation Union.  

The researchers are working to better understand cheetahs’ reproductive longevity so they can be bred in captivity in an effort to boost their numbers, university officials said.

“The successful production of these embryos through in vitro fertilization is a landmark achievement in the effort to preserve the world’s wild cheetahs,” said Autumn Davidson, a veterinarian at the university. “This development is an important step toward successfully breeding cheetahs on reserves and releasing their offspring into the wild.”

Although in vitro fertilization is common in humans, it has been difficult to duplicate the process in cheetahs, according to university officials.

Cheetahs are extinct from more than 20 countries and currently live mainly in the drier areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Approximately 12,000 to 15,000 cheetahs remain worldwide, according to the Cheetah Conservation Fund International Research and Education Centre.

The conservation center works to ensure the long-term survival of the species and is the largest cheetah reserve in the world.

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Reader Comments

Marina    Havertown, PA

11/17/2007 11:26:22 AM

I agree! This is an awesome step in preserving the world's big cat population.

Donna    Limington, ME

11/17/2007 8:01:41 AM

I hope that it is a success!

Coral    Greendale, WI

11/17/2007 5:14:14 AM

"Hey Mom! I'm on T.V!"
I'm just messin' around. By the way thanks cat channel for the news on the cheetahs. I think this is a good step in preserving the specie.

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