WICHITA, Kan. The Sedgwick County Zoo is attempting to breed its two female Amur Tigers. The Zoo's two females have yet to mate with their male counterpart, so they're hoping this artificial insemination will produce some tiger cubs.
Zeya and Talali are normally roaming the Slawson Tiger Exhibit with their male counterpart, Ivan. But Tuesday they were on an operating table.
Unfortunately, they haven't mated, so Bill Swanson of the Cincinnati Zoo is artificially inseminating both of the females. "They do breed in captivity, but sometimes you have pairs that don't breed very well," Swanson said, "so genetically we want offspring from them, but behaviorally, they just don't get along very well. This is another way we can use artificial insemination to help manage the population."
It will be a tossup if it actually works, however. "Tigers are kinda the big challenge, because we can get it to work a little bit better in, say, ocelots," Swanson says. "But tigers have been really a major challenge for the last 25 years as far as getting artificial insemination to work."
There have only been three pregnancies produced in the last 25 years with artificial insemination of captive tigers, but Swonson says the low success rate will never stop them from not trying to advance the population. "I've been doing this long enough that I have experienced lot of challenges and frustrations," Swanson said. "It's pretty exciting when a female gets pregnant and has offspring and it's a direct byproduct of the work that we've done."
If everything is successful, it'll be about four months before babies will come. If they're really lucky, both Zeya and Talali wil get pregnant. Once those cubs are born, they'll be able to roam the exhibit right here at the Sedgwick County Zoo for about a year before being placed at another zoo in the United States.
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