Posts Tagged ‘National Zoo’

First Successful Reverse Vasectomy On Endangered Species Performed At The National Zoo

June 19, 2008

Veterinarians at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo performed the first successful reverse vasectomy on a Przewalski’s horse (E. ferus przewalskii; E. caballus przewalskii—classification debated), pronounced zshah-VAL-skeez. Przewalksi’s horses are a horse species native to China and Mongolia that was declared extinct in the wild in 1970.

Currently, there are approximately 1500 of these animals maintained at zoological institutions throughout the world and in several small reintroduced populations in Asia. This is the first procedure of its kind to be performed on an endangered equid species.

The genes of Minnesota—the horse who underwent the surgery—are extremely valuable to the captive population of the species, which scientists manage through carefully planned pairings to ensure the most genetically diverse population possible. The horse was vasectomized in 1999 at a previous institution so that he could be kept with female horses without reproducing. He came to the National Zoo in 2006.

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Hunting wild animals – with cameras

April 10, 2008

Reno Taini and Chris Wemmer wade through banks of fern and wild blackberry on this February morning. A crisscross of shadows, cast by gnarled oaks, sweeps over their gray heads and denim shirts as they move. They follow a faint trail, just the type that might lead to a stash of trashed beer bottles and Twinkie wrappers – but this is no human trail.

“These are all animal trails,” says Mr. Taini, pointing to several tracks that snake across the steep slope. Deer, pigs, and the like have worn these trails – not humans.

Taini and Mr. Wemmer read the trails as they walk, choosing branches to follow. They’ve come to this wilderness area to trap the animals that travel them – not with snares, but with cameras.

Wemmer has spent his life learning to think like animals, from Tasmanian devils to Burmese brow-antlered deer; he conducted research at the Conservation and Research Center at the National Zoo in Virginia until retiring in 2004. Today he and his friend Taini search for the right spot to mount a camera so that whatever beasts prowl these hills will voluntarily strike a pose for a photo. They’ll leave four cameras here for a month; infrared motion sensors will trigger the shutters.

Click here for the full article.