Genetically pure bison from Yellowstone Park were transferred to one reservation in Montana early this summer.
It turns out, that’s not the only place the bison were being relocated. As Billings Gazette reporter Brett French reports, the Bronx Zoo has been involved in a somewhat covert operation to bring a purebred bison there.
And such a calf was born there in June after a successful embryo imlant, but the zoo only announced the birth in late August.
The zoo and Colorado State University announced Thursday that the surrogate bison gave birth to a healthy male calf at the zoo on June 20.
In October 2011, a team led by reproductive physiologist Jennifer Barfield took embryos from Yellowstone bison kept at a federal facility at the university, washed them free of disease and implanted them in a group of surrogates. An ultrasound two months later revealed that one was pregnant and that bison was taken to the zoo in New York City, along with the other bison, in April.
While many bison have been bred with cattle, Yellowstone National Park has one of the world’s largest and most genetically pure bison herds. However, about 40 percent test positive for exposure to brucellosis, which can cause pregnant animals to miscarry. Concern about the disease has prevented the animals from being taken out of the park to reproduce.
The zoo and Barfield both said it was the first time a genetically pure bison has been born as a result of an embryo transfer.
“It gives us an avenue to bring some of their valuable genes out of the Yellowstone population,” Barfield said of the technique.
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