Potter Park Zoo (in Michigan, USA) officials believe they completed one of the world’s first artificial insemination of a snow leopard without surgery or anesthesia. Staff worked with 11 year old Serena for about a year, using behavioral training, to get her into a position where she could be inseminated.
Zoo veterinarian Tara Harrison said, ” surgery and anesthesia can be dangerous and stressful for animals, decreasing success rates.”
“Typically with these animals, in order to touch them, you have to anesthetize them because they’re dangerous,” Harrison said. “She understands that if she lays still and lets us touch her, she gets rewarded with a lot of food, which is a whole lot easier and safer for her than doing it under anesthesia.”
If the procedure is successful, Serena could have cubs in about 100 days. “It will take at least a month to find out whether she is pregnant”, Harrison said.
When Zoo use anesthesia, artificial insemination is successful about one in three times for snow leopards. Harrison believes Serena’s chances could be better because of the new procedure.