In this section, I will be talking about the biotechnology in breeding and endocrinology which is all about the promotion of breeding to ensure that all the animals are being safely looked after. I will also research into the zoo’s nutrition and the legislations towards it and why it is important to Chester zoo. Furthermore, I will also review the animal’s behaviour and environmental enrichment which Is all about checking that the behaviour of the animals is normal. I will then summarise all the points I had made and how they all link to Chester zoo.
Endocrinology is the study of hormones; this is used before the procedure of IVF can be carried out to see if the animal has any problems with their hormones that would be passed down through genetics. Chester Zoo’s endocrine lab helps to support breeding programmes through an endocrine diagnostic service and research, both in the Zoo and with other conservation partners. They measure hormones in their animals non-invasively by sampling faeces, urine or saliva. Using non-invasive methods is cheaper for the zoo to conduct as less medical equipment needs to be purchased such as the needles and sterilising equipment, therefore, non-invasive methods are preferred over invasive methods.
From the samples they can tell:
• When an animal enters puberty
• When the breeding season occurs
• If an animal is reproductively healthy and cycling regularly. This is particularly helpful with the White Rhino. Reproductive cycle knocks out ex-situ and is a problem for breeding.
• The best time to introduce males to females
• If an animal is pregnant and when they are likely to give birth
• Whether a contraception method is successful
• How an animal is responding/adapting to its environment
Knowing these things helps to enhance the well-being and reproductive success of threatened species, both in zoos and in the wild. At the zoo they routinely monitor our Black Rhinos, Asian Elephants and Okapi.
At the zoo, they regularly monitor the hormone concentrations in the faeces of their female Asian Elephants. This is a vital tool for managing reproduction in their herd. This routine monitoring allows them to predict when the females are going to be in season and when they can introduce the male for mating. It can also help to find out when a female is pregnant and when the baby is due. The keepers collect a faecal sample twice a week and deliver it to the on-site lab, which returns the results within 24 hours.
Chester Zoo have also used endocrinology to monitor the fertility of a female rhino which resulted in a successful pregnancy.
The graph illustrates how they were able to use faecal hormone assessment to successfully time the introduction of the male and female rhino, diagnose pregnancy and predict when the rhino would give birth. The result was a healthy baby black rhino.
Chester Zoo complies with their mission statement and the zoo licensing act as endocrinology helps to successfully breed endangered animals and is used in conservation projects to maintain animal biodiversity, such as the successful fertilisation of the Asian Elephant due to the study of endocrinology.
Biotechnology in breeding
Animal biotechnology is the use of science and engineering to modify living organisms. The goal is to make products, to improve animal welfare and to develop microorganisms for specific agricultural uses. Techniques include crossing diverse strains of animals to produce greater genetic variety. The offspring from these crosses then are bred selectively to produce the greatest number of desirable traits. For example, female horses have been bred with male donkeys to produce mules, and male horses have been bred with female donkeys to produce hinnies, for use as work animals, for the past 3,000 years. This method continues to be used today. In zoo’s animals are bred with one another to produce an offspring with the hope to sustain the