Endoscopic examinations are an important tool to have as a reproductive veterinarian. Transvaginal and transcervical endoscopic examinations allow access to and allow evaluation of the reproductive tract which would otherwise remain unobservable. While there may be slight variations in reproductive anatomy among species, the general practice involves conducting reproductive examinations through the combined natural opening of the urethra and the vaginal canal, known as the vestibule. Scientists at Cincinnati Zoo’s Linder Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) conduct endoscopic exams for reproductive health monitoring and potential artificial inseminations across various non-domestic species, each presenting unique reproductive tracts and challenges. A solid endoscopic foundation facilitates easier adaptation and successful completion of these procedures.
Enter Marta, a wonderful Amur leopard simulator that is helping scientists at Cincinnati Zoo’s CREW train on transcervical endoscopic work. She has an artificially created silicone reproductive tracts that facilities hands-on training, instrument handling, and skill refinement before conducting endoscopic exams on anesthetized animals.
After meeting at a conference in 2022, the VETIQO team set out on the challenge to help custom make Marta for CREW. They were able to adapt their canine model (Gyndog Gynnie) to a similar sized feline for the Zoo’s Imperiled Cat Signature Project. The team even borrowed CT scans of Amur leopards to help make the key features (like head and feet) more accurate. Though the body type of a leopard is different than that of their canine counterpart, they tried to get as close as possible to help bring Marta to life. Hours of digital sculpting, manual sculpting, sanding, and hand painting went into the creating this one-of-a-kind piece that now calls CREW home.
See a behind-the-scenes look from VETIQO on the making of Marta!