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Ethical Analysis of the Application of Assisted Reproduction Technologies in Biodiversity Conservation and the Case of White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum) Ovum Pick-Up Procedures

  • Biasetti, Pierfrancesco1, 2
  • Hildebrandt, Thomas B.1, 3
  • Göritz, Frank1
  • Hermes, Robert1
  • Holtze, Susanne1
  • Galli, Cesare4
  • Lazzari, Giovanna4
  • Colleoni, Silvia4
  • Pollastri, Ilaria2, 5
  • Spiriti, Maria Michela2, 5
  • Stejskal, Jan6
  • Seet, Steven1
  • Zwilling, Jan1
  • Ngulu, Stephen7
  • Mutisya, Samuel7
  • Kariuki, Linus8
  • Lokolool, Isaac8
  • Omondo, Patrick8
  • Ndeereh, David8
  • de Mori, Barbara2, 5
  • 1 Department of Reproduction Management, Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research, Berlin , (Germany)
  • 2 Ethics Laboratory for Veterinary Medicine, Conservation, and Animal Welfare, University of Padua, Padua , (Italy)
  • 3 Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität, Berlin , (Germany)
  • 4 Avantea, Laboratory of Reproductive Technologies, Cremona , (Italy)
  • 5 Department of Comparative Biomedicine and Food Science, University of Padua, Legnaro , (Italy)
  • 6 ZOO Dvůr Králové, Dvůr Králové nad Labem
  • 7 Ol Pejeta Wildlife Conservancy, Nanyuki , (Kenya)
  • 8 Kenya Wildlife Service, Nairobi , (Kenya)
Published Article
Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Frontiers Media S.A.
Publication Date
May 03, 2022
DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2022.831675
  • Veterinary Science
  • Conceptual Analysis


Originally applied on domestic and lab animals, assisted reproduction technologies (ARTs) have also found application in conservation breeding programs, where they can make the genetic management of populations more efficient, and increase the number of individuals per generation. However, their application in wildlife conservation opens up new ethical scenarios that have not yet been fully explored. This study presents a frame for the ethical analysis of the application of ART procedures in conservation based on the Ethical Matrix (EM), and discusses a specific case study—ovum pick-up (OPU) procedures performed in the current conservation efforts for the northern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum cottoni)—providing a template for the assessment of ART procedures in projects involving other endangered species.

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