Koala joeys enhance thebeauty of Australia; little wonder then, that the University of Queensland, Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, Dreamworld, Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary, David Fleay's Wildlife Park and the Zoological Society of London have come together for a very interesting project. The combined project is an artificial insemination programme.Three test-tube koala joeys were unveiled on Monday and scientists believe the technique can be made use of in genetic management and animal welfare. Though,the koala is not among endangered species, it is listed as vulnerable to extinction in two Australian states, Queensland and New South Wales.
The programme next aims to create the world's first koala sperm bank and this would enable researchers to screen out koala diseases. Scientists revealed that the technique of test-tube insemination was employed and a total of 12 koala joeys were produced.
'The koalas were conceived using a new breeding technology that uses sperm mixed with a special solution to prolong the sperm's shelf-life', stated Steve Johnston, the project leader and reproductive biologist at the University of Queensland.
'Eight of the 12 current test-tube joeys were born following the artificial insemination of freshly diluted sperm samples,' he continued. 'The next vital step is the use of chilled sperm and then thawed frozen sperm from the sperm bank.'
Johnston said the koala sperm bank would enable a genetic background check of each koala, screening for koala diseases such as chlamydia, a parasitic bacteria, and management of the genetic diversity of koala populations. 'We don't want to claim the technique as the solution to koala conservation but more of a tool for genetic management and animal welfare, an extra insurance policy,' concludedJohnston.