Lemurs are a diverse group of primates comprised of five families, all of which are found only on Madagascar and the Comoro Islands. Of the 60 known species, 17 are endangered and 5 of these are considered critically endangered. The effects of inbreeding on population health and viability have been well described; though negative inbreeding effects can be ameliorated through the introduction of new genetic material. Introduction of new individuals into a population can be extremely challenging because of the highly social nature of lemurs. Semen collection in lemur species is notoriously challenging, as the ejaculate forms a coagulum. During normal breeding, the coagulum forms a copulatory plug in the female. However, this coagulum can present a life-threatening situation when retained in the urethra abnormally following electroejaculation. This study investigates the use of ascorbic acid in preventing urethral blockage in two lemur species during semen collection, demonstrates successful collection of semen by electroejaculation from two species of lemur during the breeding season, and discusses removal of urethral plugs subsequent to semen collection. Semen was collected successfully from all animals. Urethral plugs formed during each collection and were abnormally retained in 2/11 collections. Both plugs were successfully and immediately removed with the use of retropulsion through a urethral catheter. Although the results of this study are encouraging, more investigation is required to establish whether or not this procedure can be safely performed in the field.
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Vol. 38 • No. 2