The Réserve Zoologique de la Haute-Touche is the only animal park in France with a research laboratory. This facility is connected to an important area of the park which is dedicated to breeding. It is a unique place where reproduction, ethology or veterinary medicine are studied. The work that we carry out can be applied to species conservation in a number of ways.
CERFS [Centre d’Élevage et de Recherche pour la Faune Sauvage, Wildlife Breeding and Research Centre]
In order to improve the chances of long-term conservation for the most endangered species, Haute-Touche has been developing a number of programmes as part of the CERFS. In 2000, a research laboratory dedicated to reproduction biotechnologies was opened at the Reserve. The laboratory is recognised as having particular expertise in the development of assisted reproduction techniques for the conservation of endangered species.
This research laboratory enables a number of applications:
- Genetic studies are conducted to better select breeders so as to preserve variability within populations.
- The application of reproductive biotechnologies, including the use of in-vitro fertilisation (IVF), the production of embryos and their preservation by way of freezing.
- These techniques, which are used on critically endangered species, help to increase the number of offspring from a very limited number of parents through the use of embryonic transfer on females of closely related species. For example, at Haute-Touche, a red doe gave birth to a Sika deer fawn from Japan. This world first involves two common species and represents the first step in modelling which will be applied to species such as the Eld’s deer from Siam.
- Cryobank management
- Freezing sperm, embryos and issue in liquid nitrogen at -196°C means that unique genes can be preserved on a long-term basis, preserving the reproductive capacity of individuals that are no longer present. In the long term, this will facilitate the carrying-out of the EEP, thanks to simplified international exchanges (transport of cryopreserved vials). The Haute Touche cryobank involves around 400 individuals belonging to 35 different species.