Beagles to detect polar bears pregnancies
A beagle named Elvis is being used by a zoo in Cincinnati to identify pregnancy in polar bears.
According to reports, the Beagles' incredible sense of smell make them one of the best animals for use in sniffing out explosives and other substances.
The zoo in Cincinnati is now using Elvis to detect pregnancy in polar bears by detecting certain proteins inside bear feces.
When the proteins is present Elvis reacts by sitting down.
According to reports, the dog has so far shown 97% accuracy in positive identification of samples from pregnant bears.
"He sat right down. I thought, 'Whew, this works!'" Erin Curry, a post-doctoral fellow at the Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife, said.
Polar bears have complicated reproductive cycles, and false pregnancies are common. And since confirming pregnancies is difficult zoo officials believe that knowing in advance would help make sure they and the mama bears are ready for birthing and raising cubs.
"It's always nice to know in advance," said Randi Meyerson of the Toledo Zoo, who coordinates polar bear species survival planning for the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
Once the pregnant polar bears are identified, they are separated from the males and put into dens with extra bedding.
A video-camera monitoring is then started and staff and volunteers are assigned for a 24-hour "cub watches", the New York Post reported.
Using a beagle is also a non-invasive and simple method for zookeepers, since they only need to pick up fecal samples for Elvis to sniff.
Better results from captive breeding of polar bears can help zoo scientists learn more about their reproduction and also help public awareness.
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