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Western Lowland Gorilla Conservation

Ovarian Stimulation, Oocyte Retrieval and ICSI Followed by Embryo Transfer in a Western Lowland Gorilla
In 2004, Gladys Porter Zoo partnered with the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, NE, to develop a new technique for assisted reproduction in gorillas. Assisted reproductive techniques, such as artificial insemination, are becoming more important as an alternative strategy for the breeding management of zoo animals, including gorillas.

Dr. Jenifer Chatfield, former GPZ Sr. Veterinarian and Dr. Naida Loskutoff, HDZ reproductive physiologist, along with a team of specialists, have worked to develop a protocol using sex-sorted sperm for assisted reproduction in gorillas.

Gorillas live in groups in the wild made up of one or two males and many females. Unfortunately, it is difficult to house many males together in captivity as they will fight. Therefore, skewing the captive population to greater numbers of females would eliminate many captive management problems with gorillas. Babies produced using this protocol would be females. GPZ gorillas Mary and Penney have both been involved in this investigation. While there has been no pregnancy yet, breakthroughs in the field of assisted reproduction in gorillas have been documented through this investigation.

Do Gorillas Experience Menopause?
While everyone knows that apes are closely related to humans, no one knows how closely related we all are. Sylvia Atsalis, a primatologist from the Brookfield Zoo, investigated whether or not gorillas experience menopause. She contacted former GPZ Senior Veterinarian Dr. Jenifer Chatfield about GPZ gorilla "Katanga" participating in the study. By measuring daily fecal hormones and evaluating behavior three times a week, Dr. Atsalis was able to establish that gorillas do experience menopause. Collecting data from many different zoos across the country helped her establish another link between humans and apes.