Electroejaculation in rhinoceroses has historically yielded inconsistent results, with the collection of high-quality, sperm-rich samples rare. The goal of this study was to develop a reliable method of electroejaculation in the rhinoceros by designing a rectal probe that appropriately fits the anatomy of this taxon and refining the procedure. A curved probe handle ending in an oblate, ellipsoid head was built using readily available supplies. A combination of rectal massage, penile massage, and electrical stimulation with a specially designed probe was employed in attempts to collect semen on 14 occasions from greater one-horned rhinoceroses (Rhinoceros unicornis; n = 4), black rhinoceroses (Diceros bicornis; n = 2) and a southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum; n = 1). During 13 of the 14 attempts, ejaculates were collected in multiple fractions. All but one of the ejaculates contained spermatozoa, and seven ejaculates contained good-quality fractions of semen (≥60% sperm motility; ≥20 × 106 spermatozoa/ml) suitable for sperm banking and assisted reproduction procedures. Mean (± SEM) values for volume, pH, osmolality, and total sperm number for ejaculates containing good-quality fractions (98.2 ± 21.8 ml, 8.5 ± 0.1, 290.4 ± 6.7 mOsm, and 37.1 ± 12.0 × 109, respectively) did not differ (P > 0.05) from those containing only poor-quality samples. Urine and/or erythrocyte contamination was not uncommon in fractions of both ejaculate types. Males producing good-quality samples ranged in age from 7 to 34 yr. None of the samples contained ≥75% morphologically normal spermatozoa. Electroejaculation with a uniquely designed probe consistently produced ejaculates in the rhinoceros. However, the production of high-quality samples continued to be challenging, occurring in only 50% of collection attempts. Regardless, the technology has progressed to a stage at which good-quality semen samples can be produced for sperm banking and assisted reproduction, and thereby can be integrated into intensive rhinoceros management strategies for the ultimate survival of this taxon.
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Vol. 36 • No. 4