How do you effectively determine if a polar bear is pregnant? By using a dog to sniff its poop of course! Scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo's Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) are working with this two-year old beagle, named "Elvis."
By the end of the week the Cincinnati Zoo says it should know how many bears Elvis says are pregnant. Worldwide, traditional methods of pregnancy detection, like progesterone monitoring and ultrasound examination are not effective at diagnosing pregnancy in polar bears.
This is a first
"This is the first time sniffer dogs have been used in biomedical research as it relates to any wildlife species, making this project truly one-of-a-kind," said Dr. Erin Curry, a Post-Doctoral Fellow studying polar bear reproduction at CREW.
Elvis is accurate
Elvis the beagle, of Iron Heart High Performance Working Dogs, is demonstrating a 97% accuracy in positive identification of samples from pregnancy females. He works in Kansas City but the polar bears, all the lab work, sample saving, storing, prepping and sending is in Cincinnati.
Elvis and the Cincinnati Zoo are working together to determine pregnancy in polar bears found in zoos throughout North American.