Resurrecting the dwindling northern white rhino population through artificial insemination

ESCONDIDO, Calif. – A new report from the International Rhino Foundation found three of the world’s five rhino species could be lost within our lifetime. Perhaps no species is closer to extinction than the northern white rhino. There are only two left in the world. Scientists at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park are part of an international effort trying to save the species.

At the San Diego Zoo, a southern white rhino named Victoria is pregnant. At 17 weeks, her calf is about the size of small banana, reports CBS News correspondent John Blackstone. It’s a big moment for Barbara Durrant, the zoo’s director of reproductive sciences.

“This pregnancy is really significant for us because it was the result of artificial insemination. And the sperm we used was frozen. So that’s a big hurdle,” Durrant said.

“We want Victoria to carry this pregnancy to term,” Durrant said. “The reason that’s important for us and for all the other females at the rhino rescue center, is that they eventually are going to be surrogates or embryo transfer recipients for northern white rhino embryos.”

The northern white rhino is on the verge of vanishing forever. In 2015, at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, we met Nola, an elderly northern white, one of just five left on the planet.

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