All that Glitters is not Gold!

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All that Glitters is not Gold!

Monday, 12 February 2007

Dublin Zoo's plans to breed from two of its female white rhinos took a festive turn to make it possible to tell the difference between their pings.

In order to keep a check on the hormone levels of Ashanti and Zanta the faeces are collected twice weekly and sent to the lab for hormone testing. However, because the young females are kept together it was impossible to tell their pings apart.

That was until somebody had a sparkling idea.

The Zoo Keepers' novel technique involves adding different coloured glitter, namely silver and blue, to the rhinos' feed. The colourful result is an effective identification method to test with certainty the hormone levels of the rhinos.

Keepers at Dublin Zoo are delighted with the results and indications are that Ashanti may be pregnant.

Zoo Vet, John Bainbridge has been closely monitoring the project. He said:

“This is a nice simple, harmless way of getting the results we need. When the faeces samples are collected with the different colour glitter, it's clear which sample belongs to Ashanti and which sample belongs to Zanta. The glitter is a safe, non toxic method of testing the hormone levels in the Rhinos”.

Helen Clarke, Team leader on Dublin Zoo's African Plains said:

“We are really hoping Ashanti is pregnant. In order to gain good information on the hormone levels we needed to take samples each week over a three month period. We were struggling until we had this idea and are so pleased that it seems to be working. It's an ideal way of getting good samples without separating the rhinos or worse still - following them round all day with a shovel!”

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