Meeting the Challenge of Preserving
Global Biodiversity through Reproductive Science
Science to Endangered Species Conservation Reproductive Science
of species survival and
is a research priority of the National Zoo.
areas of study within the Department of Reproductive Sciences
include gamete (sperm, egg) biology, embryology, endocrinology,
behavior, cryobiology, assisted breeding, and reproductive
Our scientists work closely with colleagues locally, nationally
and internationally in the disciplines of veterinary medicine,
nutrition, genetics, animal husbandry, physiological ecology
and population biology.
Primary Areas of Focus
- Recovery of the Endangered Black-Footed Ferret
- Genome Resource Technology and Conservation
- Monitoring Hormones for Well-Being and Reproduction
- Reproductive Health and Breeding
- Marine Life Conservation through Reproductive
- Technologies Reproductive Technologies and Conservation
of Endangered Cats
- Reproduction and Reintroduction of Antelopes, Cervids,
- Improving Elephant Reproduction
- Meeting the Challenge of Preserving Global Biodiversity
through Reproductive Science
Successes and Milestones
- Pioneering technologies to assist breeding and managing
rare species, including developing consistently successful
artificial insemination in the Eld’s deer, scimitar-horned
oryx, cheetah, black-footed ferret, elephant, and giant panda.
- First use of assisted breeding for large-scale production
of black-footed ferrets for reintroduction in the American
- Developing and implementing genome banking technology
(frozen repositories of sperm, embryos, tissue, blood products,
and DNA) to "insure" and assist managing species
in zoos and in nature.
- Forging noninvasive techniques to safely measure hormones
in more than 50 mammal and bird species, ranging from the
meerkat to the Bali mynah to the killer whale.
- Leadership in research, management and conservation of
African antelopes, elephants, Asian deer, birds of prey,
fishes, the giant panda, black-footed ferret, and more than
25 wild cat species (cheetah, lion, Florida panther, and clouded
leopard, among others).
- Leadership in reproductive and biomedical studies in
China that have helped to establish self-sustaining populations
of giant pandas in breeding centers.
- More than 300 scientific papers on the wonders of reproductive
phenomena in never-before studied species.
Training the Next Generation of Conservation
Department of Reproductive Sciences takes seriously its responsibility
to develop the next generation of scholars and wildlife managers
who will be the frontline defense in conserving biodiversity.
Our scientists teach students from the U.S. and abroad how
to apply the scientific method to help manage and save small
populations of rare species. More than 20 post-doctoral fellows,
40 graduate students and 200 interns (including some from the developing
world) have experienced this unique training in the Smithsonian’s
state-of-the-art laboratories. This first-rate, team-based
science program shapes the careers of these young scientists
by exposing them to diverse conservation science disciplines.
priorities are to conduct high quality scientific research
and to train the conservation leaders of tomorrow. Our programs
are essential to understanding the biology and saving some
of the Earth’s rarest and most fascinating species.
Few challenges are more important, rewarding or necessary.
Grants and gifts from scientific agencies, corporations, foundations
and private individuals provide more than half the budget
for activities. If you are interested in a tax-deductible,
charitable gift or receiving more information on the Department
of Reproductive Sciences and its worldwide efforts on behalf
of the Earth’s biodiversity, contact Dr. David Wildt,
Senior Scientist and Chairman, Department of Reproductive
Sciences at 540.635.6539 or .6595, or
Research to Preserve Biodiversity
Department of Reproductive Sciences is comprised of 20 scientists
at the National Zoo and its Conservation
and Research Center. These skilled and dedicated individuals
use modern, cutting-edge technologies (often borrowed from
human medical research) to study and preserve some of the
most endangered species on Earth. They have been undisputed
leaders in this field for more than two decades.
Partners in Progress
to our success has been collaboration among many disciplines
to generate basic and applied information to improve wildlife
management. The network for the Department of Reproductive
Sciences includes the best scientists, universities and government/nongovernmental
organizations worldwide. Moving people, knowledge and technology worldwide
through its Mobile Laboratory ensures that expertise is shared
far beyond the Smithsonian’s Washington, D.C., base.