Northern White Rhinoceros: Hybrid Embryos Could Save Critically Endangered Species

The pre-implantation embryos are known as blastocysts

To create these hybrid rhino embryos, the researchers first extracted eggs from female rhinos of a closely-related subspecies, the southern white rhinoceros (SWR).

Sudan, the last white male northern rhino in the world, died aged 45 at Ol Pejeta.

The last living male white northern white rhino, named Sudan, died last March.

Researchers have discovered new leads in stem cell research, by breeding white rhinos artificially using lab-grown embryos, in a bid to stop a complete wipe out of the endangered white rhino species.

"The proper legislation must be passed, the resources to enforce the regulations must be provided and the law must be upheld", said Dr Roth, who has worked in rhino conservation for more than two decades.

Dvur Kralove Zoo global projects spokesman Jan Stejskal, who helped write the report, said he'd been part of efforts to save the northern white rhinos for 40 years.

With the help of stem cell technology, maybe the scientists can turn the cells from the dozen sample skin stored from different NWR into eggs and sperm which could create genetically diverse embryos. The next step is to implant these embryos into surrogate southern females over the coming months, paper co-author Cesare Galli tells Yin, hopefully triggering the birth of a healthy hybrid calf.

"The embryonic stem cells which are viable are potential candidates to create artificial gametes, both eggs and sperm, using a technique now being developed in mice".

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Stejskal is part of the worldwide team of scientists and conservationists trying to keep the rhinos from slipping into extinction.

There are concerns that because only two northern white rhinos remain it will create a limited gene pool and future rhinos will be at risk for a wide array of health problems linked to inbreeding and lack of genetic diversity. The embryos developed to the blastocyst stage, which increases the chances of pregnancy after implantation into a surrogate female.

Scientists developed a hybrid embryo by combining the sperm of the northern white rhino and the egg of the southern white rhino, which population is now estimated at around 21,000 individuals, according to the zoo statement.

A team of worldwide scientists has performed the first ever in vitro fertilisation for a rhinoceros and researchers say frozen sperm could be used to create new embryos.

There were 2,000 Northern White Rhinos half a century ago. "But I am afraid it is very much Nero fiddling after Rome is burning with respect to (northern) white rhino". In years to come, there will finally be few true breed northern white rhino calves once again, saving the entire species from the brink of extinction. The desperate logic of mixing subspecies and applying assisted reproduction technology is also being discussed regarding the Sumatran rhino.

"It would be bad", said Professor Thomas Hildebrandt of the Institute for studies of zoo and wildlife them. We can not afford to adopt a cavalier attitude toward extinction, as though animals were something to bring back at our leisure, he said.

The northern white rhinoceros needs a miracle. The study's authors used a 60-inch-long instrument (patent pending) to insert a needle through the anus of anesthetized southern white rhinos and into ovarian tissue. In May, a southern white rhino in the USA named Victoria became pregnant through artificial insemination.

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