Cincinnati Zoo Scientists Saving Rhinos in Ohio

Posted November 15, 2017 by Jessye Wojtusik

In 2014, Cincinnati Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) was awarded a National Leadership Grant (NLG), to support rhino assisted reproduction efforts. This project was designed to help 1) contribute to the genetic management and propagation of Indian rhinos in human care through artificial insemination (AI); 2) enhance southern white rhino fertility through exogenous hormone administration prior to natural breeding or AI; 3) build upon national rhino gamete rescue centers at CREW and SWBGRRC; and 4) provide collaborating facilities with individualized training and/or support in rhino assisted reproductive technology (exogenous hormone protocols, ultrasonography, endocrine analysis, AI, and sperm collection, sorting and cryopreservation).

In other words – we’re working together to save rhinos from right here in the midwest!

Let’s get the run-down of this rhino conservation project:

Indian rhino at the Wilds


Dr. Monica Stoops (CREW)
Dr. Jessye Wojtusik (CREW)
Dr. Justine O’Brien (former CREW post-doc, currently Research Director at Taronga Zoo in Australia)
The Wilds and Cincinnati Zoo Veterinary and Animal Care staff


The Wilds and Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden 


Successfully collected semen from 2 African white rhinos and 1 Indian rhino at the Wilds and 1 black rhino, Faru, at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Welcome Faru to the Zoo! (Photo: Mark Dumont)
Faru, a black rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo


Some of the semen was sorted by sex based on chromosomes (x vs y) and banked for use in future artificial insemination (AI). This also allows us to choose sex of offspring, which is important for managed populations of endangered species.

The remaining semen was used in freezing studies to test alternative semen extenders to optimize cryopreservation of sperm in these species to help support genetic management.

Partnerships are essential for conserving wildlife. In many cases, CREW’s conservation and research efforts are spearheaded by CREW staff who work closely with many other organizations to achieve project goals. In other cases, CREW helps by supporting programs led by world renowned conservation organizations. In either case, CREW forms critical partnerships with other scientists, conservationists and governmental and non-governmental organizations to help save the endangered plants, animals and ecosystems of the world.

Black rhino Kendi at the Cincinnati Zoo

About IMLS Grants 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. Their mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Their grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive.

The National Leadership Grants are awarded for projects that address critical needs of the museum field and that have the potential to advance practice in the profession so that museums can improve services for the American public.