IVF hopes for northern white rhino

Scientists at a British zoo are using IVF techniques to help save the world’s only remaining northern white rhinos from extinction. There are just two females and one male alive.

Longleat Safari Park in Warminster aims to extract nine eggs from three southern white rhinos in order to help them breed.

Researchers in Italy then eventually hope to extract genetic material from the northern whites to allow for the fertilization of the eggs.

Researchers in a clinic in Italy will work with the eggs to develop IVF technology that could use genetic material from the northern whites.

If the scientists are unable to use IVF to breed a pure northern white rhino they will consider using eggs from southern whites with sperm from northern whites, thereby creating a hybrid species.

Both breeds of rhino share many characteristics but, while there are only three northern whites, the World Wildlife Fund says there are more than 20,000 southern whites.

The remaining northern whites have been unable to breed because of their age and fertility problems.