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Scientists preserve embryos from critically endangered Iberian lynx

Scientists hope the Iberian lynx embryos can be implanted into a closely related species to help them survive.

Endangered iberian lynxEnlarge
Conservationists have preserved the embryos of two Iberian lynx females in hopes of implanting them into a surrogate mother. There are barely 150 of the critically endangered cats left. (CRISTINA QUICLER/AFP/Getty Images)

Scientists have collected and preserved the embryos of the world's most endangered cat, the Iberian lynx, to try and help it survive as a species.

The fertilized eggs will be implanted into a surrogate mother from a closely related species, which might be a Eurasian lynx, in hopes of at least one successful pregnancy, reports NBC News.

Conservationists are hoping the pioneering procedure will help boost the population of the critically endangered animals, which estimates put number of adult cats between 84 to 143.

Scientist from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research IZW in Berlin, Germany collected embryos from two female Iberian lynx and afterwards castrated the females in order to preserve their health.

One of the females, 12-year-old Saliega, was the first Iberian lynx who was bred in captivity in 2005.

She's already given birth to 16 cubs in the past 8 years and recently suffered from a breast tumor after nursing her newest litter of kittens.

The team was able to collect unfertilized eggs from Saliega and freeze them to be fertilized later and implanted in a surrogate.

The other cat, called Azahar, suffered complications from giving birth during her last two pregnancies.  

Conservationists decided that instead of risking her health again, they would preserve her embryos and implant them into a surrogate mother instead. 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/europe/germany/130325/scientists-preserve-embryos-critically-endangered-iberia