OTTAWA, November 27, 2012 — The University of Ottawa and the Nashville (Tennessee) Zoo are pleased to announce the first ever captive breeding of eastern hellbenders and the first controlled breeding of any hellbenders using biotechnology. The two hellbenders were successfully hatched from eggs produced and artificially fertilized from the Nashville Zoo’s long-term captive animals.
Professor Vance Trudeau, Faculty of Science, has been assisting the research team led by Dale McGinnity of the Nashville Zoo. McGinnity has been working on developing assisted reproductive technologies for hellbenders, which are giant, endangered salamanders.
“We have adapted our breeding methods developed for Canadian frogs to help the Nashville Zoo with their project. This is one of the most significant collaborations in which I am currently involved. I cannot wait to see the baby hellbenders,” says Trudeau.
Hellbenders, along with their close cousins, the Japanese and Chinese giant salamanders, have remained relatively unchanged since the age of the dinosaurs. All three species are now in decline, and may be threatened with extinction unless conservation programs are developed. Indeed, most hellbender populations have dropped rapidly over the last 30 years across the majority of their range.