WICHITA, Kansas -- Two Amur tigers, Zeya and Talali, both seven years old, were artificially inseminated today at the Sedgwick County Zoo.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums Species Survival Plan for Amur tigers recently recommended breeding the tigers at the zoo.
"We have to get to the point where we can use the frozen semen to consistently produce offspring," said Bill Swanson, Director of Animal Research Cincinnati Zoo.
Right now, the success rate of artificial insemination of captive tigers is minimal.
While tigers do reproduce in captivity, artificial insemination allow researchers to maintain a good genetic variety.
"We're essentially dropping the sperm right on top of the egg which is really lowering the bar for the sperm so they don't have to swim all the way through the reproductive track we just say, here are the eggs, fertilize these eggs and hopefully they do that," said Swanson.
It's a new approach for the team from Cincinnati. They hope to increase their success rate.
"It is pretty exciting when a female gets pregnant and has offspring, and it's a direct by-product of the work you've done," said Swanson.
Officials hope the procedure helps save the species and others.
"It's great that they were able to participate that they've been cooperative with us in being able to work on their tigers as you guys can see it's not an easy effort to be able to do these procedures on tigers, and there's a lot of dedicated effort from the staff here to be able to do it," added Swanson.
There have been only three successful pregnancies from artificial insemination in the past 25 years.
The most recent happening ten years ago.