Numerous reports on reproductive pathology in all rhinoceros species illustrate the abundance of female infertility in captive populations. In infertile rhinoceroses, oocyte collection and embryo production could represent the best remaining option for these animals to reproduce and to contribute to the genetic pool. We report here on superstimulation, repeated oocyte recovery, and attempted in vitro fertilization (IVF) in white and black rhinoceroses. Four anestrous rhinoceroses (two white, two black) with unknown follicular status were treated with gonadotropin-releasing hormone analogue, deslorelin acetate, for 6 to 7 d. Number and size of follicles in superstimulated females was significantly higher and larger compared with those in nonstimulated anestrous females (n=9). Ovum pick-up was achieved by transrectal ultrasound-guided follicle aspiration. Up to 15 follicles were aspirated per ovary. During six ovum pick-ups, a total of 29 cumulus-oocyte complexes (COCs) were harvested with a range of 2 to 9 COCs per collection. No postsurgical complications were noted on the rhinoceros ovaries using this minimally invasive approach. Various in vitro maturation (IVM) and IVF protocols were tested on the collected COCs. Despite the low total number of COCs available for IVM and IVF in this study, we can report the first rhinoceros embryo ever produced in vitro. The production of a 4-cell embryo demonstrated the potential of transrectal ultrasound-guided oocyte recovery as a valuable tool for in vitro production of rhinoceros embryos from otherwise infertile females.
Animals Female Fertilization in Vitro/veterinary* Infertility, Female/therapy Infertility, Female/veterinary* Male Oocytes* Ovary/ultrasonography Perissodactyla* Sperm Injections, Intracytoplasmic/veterinary Suction/veterinary Superovulation* Tissue and Organ Harvesting/methods Tissue and Organ Harvesting/veterinary* Ultrasonography/veterinary