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
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.
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.