The Iberian lynx is the most endangered wild cat species worldwide.
It seems counterintuitive that castration could help save a species facing extinction. But through removing the ovaries of a female Iberian lynx, scientists say they were able to collect and preserve embryos from the world's most endangered wild cat for the first time.
Conservationists are hoping the fertilized eggs could be implanted into a surrogate mother of a closely related species, possibly a Eurasian lynx female. Even one successful surrogate pregnancy could be a boost for felines, whose declining population had been estimated to be less than 200 a decade ago.
One Iberian lynx named Azahar, which was part of a breeding program in Silves, Portugal, had problems giving birth and underwent two emergency Caesarean sections in two consecutive pregnancies.
Conservationists decided that, for health reasons, they shouldn't try breeding Azahar again and the cat's ovaries were removed by castration.
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