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Advancing Laboratory-Based Zoo Research to Enhance Captive Breeding of Southern White Rhinoceros

Advancing Laboratory-Based Zoo Research to Enhance Captive Breeding of Southern White Rhinoceros

Chapter:
(p.279) Chapter Twenty-Two Advancing Laboratory-Based Zoo Research to Enhance Captive Breeding of Southern White Rhinoceros
Source:
The Ark and Beyond
Author(s):
Christopher W. Tubbs
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226538631.003.0023

The captive southern white rhinoceros (SWR) is not currently self-sustaining because of low fertility of captive-born females. The cause of this phenomenon is believed to be high dietary levels of phytoestrogens; endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) produced by plants that can mimic the reproductive hormone estrogen. Typically, investigating the effects of EDCs on reproduction utilizes invasive methods, such as treatment of animals with potentially harmful chemicals. However, such approaches are not feasible for a species like the SWR. In this chapter the application of novel research to study the molecular mechanisms by which phytoestrogens affect SWR reproduction is reviewed. In addition, recent evidence that changing from high to low phytoestrogen diets may improve SWR fertility is presented. Taken together, the information presented here demonstrates an emerging opportunity to apply laboratory-based research to the ex-situ conservation of threatened or endangered species.

Keywords:   rhinoceros, laboratory-based research, endocrine disrupting chemicals, reproduction, ex-situ conservation

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