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Keywords:

  • artificial insemination;
  • assisted-breeding technology;
  • conservation;
  • induced ovulation;
  • koala;
  • marsupial

This paper documents the successful development of an artificial insemination (AI) programme for the Koala Phascolurctos cinereus. The protocols for trials involving two methods to induce ovulation and two insemination techniques are described. In Trial 1, interrupted coitus using a ‘teaser’♂ successfully induced ovulation in nine Koalas. Five ♀♀ were inseminated while conscious using a modified ‘foley catheter’ (Cook insemination catheter) resulting in the births of two offspring. The other four ♀♀ were anaesthetized and inseminated using a technique which allowed visualization of the most cranial portion of the urogenital sinus, where semen was deposited using a 3.5 Fr. ‘Tom-cat catheter’ (urogen-itoscopic insemination). Three of the four ♀♀ inseminated by this technique produced pouch young. Microsatellite analysis of DNA from the pouch young excluded the teaser ♀♀ as possible sires, confirming that all offspring were sired by donor sperm. In Trial 2, eight ♀♀ were induced to ovulate by injecting them with 250 International Units of human chorionic gonadotrophin (hCG). A luteal phase was confirmed in all eight ♀♀ but only one gave birth following urogenitoscopic insemination. The Koala pouch young in this study are the first of any marsupial to be conceived and born following A1 procedures. Details of the A1 procedures used are presented and the significance of A1 to the conservation biology of P. cinereus discussed.