Main content area

Effectiveness of urethral catheterization under ultrasound guidance for semen collection from Asiatic black bears (Ursus thibetanus)

Jeong, Dong-Hyuk, Yang, Jeong-Jin, Seo, Myeong-Kyo, Lee, An-Na, Lim, Yoon-Kyu
Theriogenology 2019 v.129 pp. 154-159
Ursus thibetanus, acrosome, adults, anesthesia, breeding, breeding season, catheters, cats, cold storage, endangered species, males, protocols, semen, sperm concentration, sperm motility, storage temperature, ultrasonics, ultrasonography, viability, Korean Peninsula
The Asiatic black bear (ABB; Ursus thibetanus ussuricus) is a globally endangered species, and measures to help increase their population are necessary. For the successful restoration of this species, artificial breeding as well as conservation translocation are considered important. The aims of the present study were to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of urethral catheterization (UC), which is effectively used in feline species, for semen collection from ABBs and establish the optimal protocol for semen collection via this technique. Seven clinically healthy, adult male ABBs (age, 6–13 years; weight, 130–180 kg) housed at the Species Restoration Technology Institute, Korea were included in this study. All study procedures were performed during the breeding season (June to August) over 3 consecutive years. Semen samples were collected once or three times from all bears by ultrasound-guided UC or electroejaculation (EE) under general anesthesia, and their characteristics, including sperm motility, were evaluated. The day of semen collection was defined as Day 0. The semen collected by the UC method was stored at 4 °C, and sperm motility was evaluated at the same time every day for 16 days. The successful collection rates for the UC and EE methods were 92.3% and 53.8%, respectively. The sperm concentration (4718.9 ± 1526.1 vs. 185.0 ± 34.2 × 106/ml), total sperm count (1196.6 ± 955.5 vs. 100.9 ± 70.0 × 106), sperm motility score (4.39 ± 0.78 vs. 3.00 ± 1.73), viability (98.2 ± 2.3 vs. 82.7 ± 19.6), and the proportion of spermatozoa with intact acrosomes (92.2% ± 9.3% vs. 75.6% ± 10.6%) were higher with the UC method than with the EE method, whereas the proportion of spermatozoa with an abnormal morphology (23.1% ± 4.6% vs. 45.6% ± 19.5%) was lower with the former than with the latter. Over the course of cool storage, there was an overall decrease in the total motility, progressive motility, and viability, although viability was >50% until Day 10. These findings suggest that ultrasound-guided UC is a useful and feasible tool for the collection of high-quality semen from ABBs. The collected semen remains viable for up to 10 days, with high sperm motility maintained for up to 7 days, when stored at 4 °C.