Tag Archives: San Diego Zoo Global

Now We Know: The Gestation Period of a Southern White Rhino is 493 days

Peter Lobner

In my 21 May 2018 post, I reported on the pregnancy of the San Diego Zoo’s southern white rhino Victoria. The pregnancy was the result of artificial insemination on 22 March 2018 using the semen from another southern white rhino.  This was the first time that San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center had been successful in initiating a southern white rhino pregnancy through artificial insemination.

The healthy baby was born on 28 July 2019 after a gestation period of 493 days.

Victoria and baby. Source: San Diego Zoo Global

You can watch a short video of Victoria, the new baby, and San Diego Zoo Global’s Dr. Barbara Durrant here:

You may recall Dr. Barbara Durrant’s 21 June 2017 presentation to the Lyncean Group (Meeting # 112), “Endangered Species Rescue: How far should we go?”   In this presentation, Dr. Durrant explained the complex process being developed at San Diego Zoo Global to use northern white rhino tissue to create artificial embryonic stem cells that can be matured into northern white rhino egg and sperm cells.  You can see her 2017 presentation here:

https://lynceans.org/112-62117/

There are only two northern white rhinos still alive in the whole world. Both are female and beyond breeding age.  San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Centeris part of a team that is working to develop artificial insemination and embryo implantation techniques so they can reliably inseminate a northern white embryo into a southern white rhino female.  This first successful birth of a southern white rhino as a result of artificial insemination is a key milestone in the process of saving the northern white rhino from extinction.

Congratulations to the team at San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center and to Victoria for this important and happy milestone.

San Diego Zoo Global Takes a Major Step in Their Program to Save the Northern White Rhino

Peter Lobner

On 17 May 2018, San Diego Zoo Global announced that their southern white rhino Victoria is pregnant.  The event was reported by Bradley Fikes, bio-technology reporter at the San Diego Union-Tribune and former Lyncean Group presenter (Talk #103, 20 April 2016).  He noted:

“The developing baby is also a southern white rhino, conceived on March 22 through artificial insemination. The pregnancy is a dress rehearsal for the ultimate goal of creating more northern white rhinos, grown from embryos made from stem cells.”

This is the first time that San Diego Zoo Global’s Rhino Rescue Center has been successful in initiating a southern white rhino pregnancy through artificial insemination.

You can read Bradley Fikes complete article here:

http://enewspaper.sandiegouniontribune.com/infinity/article_share.aspx?guid=ea65284a-3097-45d6-ac42-481b55fab2e2

Southern white rhino Victoria.  Photo source: Tammy Spratt, San Diego Zoo Safari Park via San Diego Union Tribune

Northern white rhino genetic material maintained in San Diego Zoo Global’s “Frozen Zoo” is an important resource for attempting to re-build this nearly extinct species.   You may recall Dr. Barbara Durrant’s  21 June 2017 presentation to the Lyncean Group, “Endangered Species Rescue: How far should we go?”   In this presentation, Dr. Durrant explained the complex process being developed at San Diego Zoo Global to use northern white rhino tissue to create artificial embryonic stem cells that can be matured into northern white rhino egg and sperm cells. A northern white rhino embryo is created through in-vitro fertilization and then implanted into a southern white rhino surrogate mother.  If the pregnancy is successful, this process will yield a northern white rhino calf after a 16 – 18 month gestation period.

You’ll find the slides from Dr. Durrant’s  presentation (Talk #112) here:

https://gkzaeb.a2cdn1.secureserver.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/06/Frozen-Zoo-6-21-17-compressed.pdf

The process for developing the northern white rhino embryonic stem cells continues to improve. You can read a pre-print of the recent paper, ”Four new induced pluripotent stem cell lines produced from northern white rhinoceros with non-integrating reprogramming factors,” here.

https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2017/10/13/202499.full.pdf+html

The authors, from the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research and The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, reported creating stem cell lines for four more individual northern white rhinos.

You’ll find more information on San Diego Zoo Global’s wildlife conservation programs at here:

http://endextinction.org/victoria