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Scientists fertilise eggs from last two northern white rhinos
Scientists are hopeful that a viable embryo will develop, which can be frozen and transferred to a surrogate.
World-first procedure offers fresh hope for the species 

Scientists are one step closer to saving the northern white rhino from total extinction after managing to fertilise eggs from the last two surviving females.

Najin and Fatu are the last of their species in the world, after the two remaining males - Suni and Sudan - died in 2014 and 2018 respectively. The survival of the species now rests on pioneering artificial reproduction techniques.

A team of vets managed to harvest 10 oocytes from Najin and Fatu at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, a procedure that has never been done in northern white rhinos before. A probe was guided by ultrasound and oocytes harvested from the ovaries whilst the animals were under general anaesthetic.

According to Ol Pejeta, seven out of 10 eggs (four from Fatu, three from Najin) successfully matured and were artificially inseminated using frozen sperm from two bulls, Suni and Saut.

Scientists are hopeful that a viable embryo will develop, which can be frozen and transferred to a southern white rhino surrogate mother. The results of the embryo development are expected around 10 September.

The breakthrough is the result of an international collaboration between the Leibniz Institute in Berlin, Avantea, Dvůr Králové Zoo, Ol Pejeta and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS). The cohort said it has taken years of research, development and practice, as the technique and equipment had to be developed from scratch.

Brigadier (Rtd) John Waweru, director general at KWS, said: “"We are delighted that this partnership gets us one step closer to prevent extinction of the northern white rhinos. This is particularly touching given the heartbreaking death of Sudan, the last male, who died of old age last year in Kenya.”

Cesare Galli from Italian laboratory Avantea, added: “Yesterday’s operation means that producing a northern white rhino embryo in vitro – which has never been done before – is a tangible reality for the first time.”

Images © Ami Vitale

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Celebrity chefs urge public to get baking to support Cats Protection fundraiser

News Story 1
 In support of Cats Protection's Pawsome Afternoon Tea fundraiser, Masterchef winner Tim Anderson and Great British Bake Off star Kim-Joy have shared biscuit recipes to help keen bakers raise money for needy cats across April.

The celebrity chefs are both cat owners and have said that they hope this fundraiser will help to raise awareness of cats in need and the importance of adopting a cat, rather than buying one.

This is the fourth year Cats Protection has run its Pawsome Afternoon Tea campaign, which encourages people to hold tea parties, bake sales and fundraising events to help raise money for the charity.

To view the recipes and other fundraising resources please visit the Cats Protection website. 

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News Shorts
BEVA offering free membership to vet students

The British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) is offering free membership to veterinary students. As part of a new initiative with the aim of encouraging more veterinary professionals into equine practice.

According to BEVA, less than one in ten veterinary students choose to work in equine practice. The association hopes that this initiative will provide insight into the field and the benefits of a career in equine medicine.

Benefits of membership include:
▪ access to a network of nearly 3,000 members
▪ special student rates to attend BEVA Congress
▪ online access to BEVA's Equine Veterinary Education (EVE) journal
▪ free access to the association's online learning platform
▪ free access to BEVA's practical veterinary apps
▪ exclusive discounts on a range of things from cinema tickets to grocery shopping.

BEVA will be releasing a series of short videos over the next few months from BEVA Council members, explaining what inspired them to work in equine practice.

Image (c) BEVA.