Use of a Laparoscope with Accessory Port for Transcervical Intrauterine Insemination in the Giant Panda
Department of Reproductive Sciences, Smithsonian’s National Zoological Park, Washington, D.C., USA
Breeding giant pandas in ex-situ programs has been difficult due to behavioral incompatibility, poor breeding position and inter-animal aggression. Because some individuals fail to mate naturally, the potential loss of valuable genes is a major concern to effective genetic management. Consistently successful artificial insemination (AI) would allow incorporating genetically valuable males with behavioral or physical anomalies into the gene pool. The major breeding facilities in China have made continuous progress in breeding giant pandas naturally and by AI. It is common practice at these centers to combine natural mating (with breeder males) with AI (using sperm from non-breeders). The use of AI only without natural breeding also has been successful in China; however, females usually are inseminated daily for 3 days. Our goal was to assess the efficacy of only one insemination using a recently developed laparoscope for transcervical intrauterine AI. Semen was collected from the male giant panda at the National Zoo in March 2005, assessed for ejaculate and sperm traits and diluted in TEST (Irvine Scientific, Santa Ana, CA) egg yolk diluent without glycerol. Female was monitored for natural estrus based on behavior, vaginal cytology and urinary hormones (increased estrogen). On the day following peak estrogen, the female was anesthetized, placed in supine position, and a lubricated glass speculum (12 cm in length, 2 cm in diameter) was inserted in the vagina. The insemination consisted of inserting a 3.5 mm-diameter laparoscope (36 cm long; 26 cm working length) through the speculum to visualize the cervix. Through an accessory port on the laparoscope, an 8 French catheter was inserted into the external cervical os and advanced into the uterine body. A total of 520x106 motile spermatozoa in 1.6 ml volume was deposited in utero. Female was monitored for pregnancy, and a male cub was born after a 121-day gestation. This birth confirmed that the laparoscopic technique was successful for producing a pregnancy after a single insemination. The use of this reproductive technique provides an approach for improving reproductive efficiency in animals that demonstrate poor breeding performance and helps ensure reproduction in genetically valuable animals.