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Promoting wolf conservation since 1999

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"Science and environmental law can help us learn to share landscapes with fierce creatures, but ultimately, coexistence has to do with our human hearts." ~ Cristina Eisenberg, The Carnivore Way

Free Webinar - The Role of Reproductive Management in Mexican Gray Wolf Recovery: The First 30 Years

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Today’s population of 390 Mexican gray wolves derives from 7 original captive wolves. That very small founder gene pool requires careful reproductive management to preserve genetic health. In 1990 the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program asked the Saint Louis Zoo’s Research Department to establish and maintain a semen bank for the species, to preserve genetic material in the form of frozen semen. Following technology advances in the mid-2000s, genes from females in the form of frozen eggs and ovarian tissue have been added. In the past 30 years samples have been frozen from 165 males and 51 females, with the cooperation of 28 zoos around the U.S., including the Wolf Conservation Center (WCC). The program has included adaptations of methods, developed in domestic dogs, for inducing timed ovulation and artificial insemination (AI), so frozen semen can be put to use.

The WCC has been key, in particular, in development of these protocols for females. In contrast to enhancing fertility through techniques like AI, breeding programs also need contraception to limit the number of pups born each year and to prevent inbreeding. A successful breeding program that manages which wolves breed each year is key to Mexican wolf recovery.

Join Dr. Cheryl Asa for a special webinar designed to offer insight into the complex, and critically important, world of Mexican gray wolf reproductive management. The free webinar will be offered on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at 6 pm EST.

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About the Speaker

About the Speaker

Cheryl Asa graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.A. double major in Zoology and Psychology and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Endocrinology and Reproductive Physiology. She recently retired from the Saint Louis Zoo after almost 30 years as Director of Reproductive and Behavioral Sciences, but continues her work with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Mexican Wolf Recovery Program and Mexican Wolf SSP. Her first research experience with gray wolves was in Minnesota with David Mech, where she studied olfactory communication as well as reproduction. In 1990 she was asked by the USFWS to establish a semen bank for the Mexican gray wolf at the Saint Louis Zoo. That bank has since expanded to include eggs and ovarian tissue from female wolves as well. In addition, her lab at the Zoo has pioneered assisted reproduction methods, such as artificial insemination, for management of Mexican wolf population genetics.

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