Outcomes of the AZA Workshop on Diagnosis, Treatment and Prevention of Infertility
American Association of Zoo Veterinarians Conference 2014
Cheryl Asa1, PhD; Linda Penfold2, PhD; Bruce Christensen3, DVM, MS, DACT; Dalen W. Agnew4, DVM, PhD, DACVP; Mary Agnew1, PhD
1AZA Wildlife Contraception Center, Saint Louis Zoo, Saint Louis, MO, USA; 2South-East Zoo Alliance for Reproduction and Conservation, Yulee, FL, USA; 3Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California, Davis, CA, USA; 4Diagnostic Center for Population and Animal Health, College of Veterinary Medicine, Michigan State University, Lansing, MI, USA


Many zoo-based animal populations are unsustainable. The logistics of bringing recommended pairs together may be one reason, but another not yet fully explored possibility is infertility. An association between reproductive failure and uterine pathology has been shown for a growing number of species (reviewed in Penfold et al. 2014),1 indicating that potential infertility and contributing factors are in critical need of attention. Improving reproductive success and consequently, population sustainability, will require more than assisted reproductive techniques or improved husbandry. For many populations, identifying, treating and preferably preventing infertility will be key. A workshop held at the 2014 AZA mid-year conference brought together specialists in animal infertility, animal managers and veterinarians to review currently available information, highlighting taxonomic differences in the causes of infertility and approaches to treatment and prevention. Working groups, organized by taxon, formulated action plans, focusing particularly on methods for diagnosis and potential treatment of infertility. Outcomes included a fertility diagnostic flow diagram, a call for routine endocrine monitoring of pairs with breeding recommendations, and lifetime reproductive planning for females to establish and maintain fertility. Ungulates and carnivores were selected as the first models, reflecting the expertise of workshop participants, but other taxa are also in need of attention. Plans are in progress for a similar workshop for birds in 2015 in collaboration with the Avian SAG.

This session will present the outcomes of the workshop and solicit input and discussion with participants about identifying other species of concern, diagnostic techniques, and possible treatment of infertility across taxa.


The authors thank the other 40 participants of the AZA Workshop for their discussions and input on the topic of infertility in zoo animal populations.

Literature Cited

1.  Penfold LM, Powell D, Traylor-Holzer K, Asa CS. “Use it or lose it”: Characterization, implications, and mitigation of female infertility in captive wildlife. Zoo Biology. 2014;33:20–28.


Speaker Information
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Cheryl Asa, PhD, AZA
Wildlife Contraception Center
Saint Louis Zoo
Saint Louis, MO, USA

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