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  • Cited by 4
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: August 2009

20 - Role and efficiency of artificial insemination and genome resource banking

Summary

INTRODUCTION

Historically, the breeding of giant pandas in ex situ programmes has been difficult due to behavioural incompatibility and interanimal aggression. Because some individuals fail to mate naturally, the potential loss of valuable genes is a major concern to effective genetic management (see Chapter 21). Consistently successful artificial insemination (AI) would allow incorporating genetically valuable males with behavioural or physical anomalies into the gene pool. This strategy becomes even more powerful when used in the context of a genome resource bank (GRB), an organised repository of cryopreserved biomaterials (tissue, blood, DNA and sperm) (see Chapter 7). The use of sperm cryopreservation and AI allows the movement of genes among zoos and breeding centres without needing to transfer animals, which is both stressful and costly.

‘Assisted breeding’ refers to the tools and techniques associated with helping a pair of animals propagate, from AI to embryo transfer to cloning, among others (Howard, 1999; Pukazhenthi & Wildt, 2004). With the exception of AI, there is not much need for most other assisted-breeding techniques for the giant panda. As will be demonstrated here, AI is quite adequate for dealing with most cases of infertility or with helping to maintain adequate gene diversity in the captive population. In fact, the major breeding facilities, especially the China Conservation and Research Centre for the Giant Panda (hereafter referred to as the Wolong Breeding Centre) and the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, routinely use AI to increase pregnancy success.

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