monica_aiWith only 60 Indian rhinos (Rhinoceros unicornis) in captivity in North America and approximately 2,500 remaining in the wild, successful breeding between rhino pairs is important to maintain the genetic diversity necessary to keep a population healthy and self-sustaining. Unfortunately, natural breeding attempts in captive Indian rhinos frequently result in severe aggression between the male and female. Because of this behavioral incompatibility, genetic management of the Indian rhino is a challenge.

To overcome this challenge, CREW scientists led by Dr. Monica Stoops studied the reproductive physiology and established the first successful pregnancy in an Indian rhino through artificial insemination (AI) of frozen-thawed sperm in 2010. The birth of a male calf at the Montogomery Zoo in 2013 demonstrates that AI science is a repeatable and valuable tool to help manage the captive Indian rhino population. With this scientific breakthrough, it is now possible to produce offspring from behaviorally incompatible Indian rhino pairs and allow new genetic material to be introduced in captive populations globally.

To further ensure captive breeding success and minimize aggression between male and female Indian rhinos, CREW scientists use hormone analysis to correctly time breeding introductions for rhino pairs living at other AZA institutions.