ZSL sets up big cat sperm bank
Monday 21 June 2004
The Zoological Society of London (ZSL) has launched an urgent appeal to protect endangered big cats for future generations by calling for donations of big cat sperm from zoos involved in the Amur leopard, Amur tiger and Sumatran tiger breeding programmes, to prevent extinction of these critically endangered animals
ZSL, with support from the Save The Tiger Fund, has set up a sperm bank and is looking to freeze samples from specific animals to conserve genetic diversity in these big cat species. Estimates suggest that there are less than 30 Amur leopards and only 400 Amur tigers left in the wild, these numbers are worryingly low and help from captive breeding programmes is important in protecting these, and many other species.
The samples will be stored in a secure facility and can be used to enable cutting edge artificial reproductive techniques to be employed in the future, if natural mating cannot achieve a successful breeding.
This programme is being co-ordinated by ZSL's big cat expert and studbook holder, Sarah Christie, who commented, "The situation for big cats is critical and we need to act now to safeguard them for the future. ZSL is working out in the field to protect these animals in their natural habitat but given the small number of Amur leopards, Amur tigers and Sumatran tigers left in the world, we need to do all we can to ensure the continued survival of these magnificent animals."
ZSL is currently working in Jambi Province, Sumatra to radio-collar and track Sumatran tigers to study these animals, their prey and the relationship between oil palm production patterns, tiger prey species, and tiger density in the area. This knowledge will lead to a greater understanding of how the tigers use human-dominated landscapes and how wildlife corridors can connect forested areas to help ensure the continued survival of Sumatran tigers in the wild.
For further information and images, please contact:
Nathalie Golden, ZSL Senior PR Officer
Tel. 020 7449 6280
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