The first successful artificial insemination of a rhinoceros has been accomplished by scientists from the Berlin Leibniz-Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research.
Dr. Robert Hermes, Dr. Frank Göritz, and Dr. Thomas Hildebrand developed the methods and instruments for the successful artificial insemination (AI).
The rhinoceros cow, Lulu, 24 years of age, lives at the zoo in Budapest. She is in her fifth month of pregnancy. Rhinos do not reproduce well in captivity. Lack of mating activity has been linked to the development of cysts and tumors in the reproductive tract of the female rhino.
Artificial insemination can significantly improve the management of this species in captivity by saving genetic material for future generations and allowing transport of sperm across long distances rather than the valuable animal itself.
Similar tests were done on 12-year-old Indian rhino Jeta, through the collaboration of the Montgomery Zoo and the Cincinnati Zoo's Centre for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife in the U.S. Jeta's calf, Ethan, was the first rhino in the U.S conceived through artificial insemination. Reproductive physiologist, Monica Stoop, collected a rhino's sperm in 2004 and stored it at minus 320F. It was stowed for eight years before it was used for insemination in Alabama.
Four-month old Ethan, died unexpectedly at the Montgomery Zoo in 2012.