Housecats Used in Lynx Fertility Tests

Spanish researchers are inseminating domestic cat eggs with lynx sperm.

Posted: March 17, 2007, 5 a.m. EST

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Researchers in Spain say they’ve discovered a way for housecats to provide an unexpected lifeline for the world’s most endangered feline, the Iberian lynx.

The Spanish daily El Pais has reported that researchers have discovered that they can inseminate the eggs of domestic cats with the sperm of male lynxes. The breakthrough means scientists can test the fertility of the male lynxes and widen the gene pool.

Researchers say they will now be able to explore better ways of inseminating future female lynxes.

Experts believe that only between 100 and 150 Iberian lynx are alive, because of dwindling habitats and a decline in their natural prey, which are wild rabbits.

Researchers say they fear that the lynxes are in real danger of dying out for a couple of reasons. One is because of limited breeding pairs. Also, the number of lynxes killed by cars traveling on roads through their breeding grounds is increasing.

Now, however, the Spanish scientists are extracting sperm from male lynxes killed on the roads and freezing it for later use. Veterinary practices near Madrid aided the researchers by contributing the ovaries of dead domestic cats.

Using domestic cat eggs saves researchers from using the eggs from an already endangered species. It also means they don’t have to move animals from one location to another, and it avoids potential problems with transportation and adaptation, researchers said.

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Housecats Used in Lynx Fertility Tests

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Reader Comments

Cathy    Hubbard, OH

4/1/2008 4:53:55 AM

Very interesting and hopefully they will be able to save this very beautiful animal.

Jessie    Menasha, WI

8/14/2007 6:41:59 PM

Fascinating!

kino    Spring Valley, CA

3/18/2007 10:49:43 AM

thanks for sharing

CAROLE    MARLTON, NJ

3/17/2007 6:46:46 PM

Well now we know you can extract live sperm from dead lynx a/k/a roadkill. And do what with it? Impregnate dead cat's eggs with it? Great! Can they do this to dead people too? I think they should leave well enough alone and stop trying to duplicate mother nature.

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