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Reproductive management in captive and wild canids: contraception challenges



Managing reproduction for Canidae species is a challenge for zoological institutions and wildlife sanctuaries. There are four basic options for contraception: separation of sexes, surgical procedures, immunological and hormonal methods. Animal managers face potential challenges for each option, and advantages and disadvantages should be taken into consideration when making a decision. This paper evaluates four common Canidae species with results from hormonal monitoring: Gray wolves Canis lupus/Mexican gray wolves Canis lupus baileyi, Maned wolves Chrysocyon brachyurus, Fennec fox Vulpes zerda and African wild dogs Lycaon pictus. Special focus is given to individuals treated with the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) agonist, Suprelorin®. To date there are considerably more data for African wild dogs than other canids, as extensive field observations are available for this species. Therefore, African wild dogs are more extensively covered in this paper. GnRH agonists have been designated the safest reversible method of contraception for carnivores and so continued studies are important. Results outlined below demonstrate individual dosing differences that occur not only across species but also between similar individuals. Although dosing and duration of efficacy still need further investigating, GnRH agonists are still considered to be the safest and most appropriate method available. As evident in this paper, contraception is a much-needed tool for reproductive management.

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