Brookfield Zoo uses artificial insemination to save Mexican wolf population

- A Mexican wolf named Flint made a huge contribution Monday which could help his endangered species survive. 

Veterinarians and staff at the Brookfield Zoo sedated the 6-year old wolf, then collected a semen sample, which will be frozen, and used to increase the population of Mexican wolves in the wild, and in zoos.

“The recovery story is a very powerful conservation story. And it's one of the most successful projects now in getting them re-established into the wild,” said Joan Daniels, curator of mammals for the Chicago Zoological Society: 

A check under the microscope showed Flint's semen to be healthy. His sample will be sent to the St. Louis Zoo, where a genetic bank contains hundreds of samples collected nationwide during the past two decades. There have been successes using fresh semen, but the jury's still out on whether frozen samples will be equally effective.

“The success rates is not likely to be as high, but we don't know until we've done it enough times that we have some probabilities,” said Cheryl Asa from the St. Louis Zoo.

Fifty years ago, there were less than 10 Mexican wolves living in the wild, but now, thanks to programs like this one, that number has increased, to almost 150.

A 5-year-old female wolf at Brookfield Zoo was artificially inseminated with a donation from the St. Louis bank Sunday. She had bonded for life with another male but the couple was unable to produce any offspring.

“Artificial insemination is a way to reach these genetic goals, but let those couples that are happy together, stay together,” Asa said.

As for Flint, he's fathered several litters at the zoo but this is his first donation to the genetic bank.

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