Factors affecting the outcome of artificial insemination (AI) using cryopreserved spermatozoa in the giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca)


Yan Huang, Desheng Li, Yingmin Zhou, Qiang Zhou, Rengui Li, Chengdong Wang, Zhi Huang, Vanessa Hull, Hemin Zhang

Journal or Book Title: Zoo Biology

Volume/Issue: 30

Page Number(s): 1-13

Year Published: 2011


Artificial insemination (AI) is an important component of captive breeding programs for endangered species, such as the giant panda. The panda has been the subject of increasingly successful captive breeding programs involving a compilation of assisted breeding techniques, including AI using cryopreserved spermatozoa. AI implementation is currently hampered by a lack of understanding of the factors that may cause failure. We investigated factors influencing the probability of success of AI for 14 giant panda females housed at the China Center for Research and Conservation of the Giant Panda (CCRCGP) inseminated in a total of 20 instances using cryopreserved spermatozoa from 11 males currently residing in 6 different captive breeding institutions. One of the pandas was the oldest giant panda female to ever successfully conceive from AI (20.5 years old). The success of AI was significantly affected by the timing of AI in relationship to both timing of peak urinary estrogen of the female and percent decline in urinary estrogen between the peak level and the first AI attempt. Our results suggest that the window for successful AI in giant pandas may be narrower than previously suspected, although individual differences in rates of decline in urinary estrogen may reflect some degree of variation in this crucial window across females. Our results are consistent with recent research on pandas and other species that demonstrates the efficacy of cryopreserved spermatozoa for AI and highlights the need for more in-depth analysis of factors related to female physiology that may influence its success.