Semen collection and ejaculate characteristics of the Leopard Tortoise ()

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The preservation of spermatozoa is an important tool used in conservation programs to increase the genetic diversity of threatened and endangered species. Although routinely used to manage conservation programs for higher vertebrates, there have been limited attempts to establish reproductive assistance programs for tortoises. The purpose of this study was to develop a model for collecting and characterizing semen in Testudinidae. Semen was collected from 13/16 (81.2%, 95% CI: 62-100) adult male leopard tortoises () via electroejaculation under propofol anesthesia. Semen samples were collected most frequently after the second series of electrostimulations (6/13, 46.1%), with fewer animals producing semen after the first (5/13, 38.5%) or third (2/13, 15.4%) electrostimulations. The average volume of a semen sample in the tortoises was 0.26 ml (standard deviation: 0.16, minimum-maximum: 0.1-0.6), the average spermatozoal concentration was 101.62 × 10/ml, and the average motility at time of collection was 57.3%. A rapid decrease in motility was observed in refrigerated samples over 24 h resulting in a median motility of 0% at 24 h post-collection. The results of this study suggest that electroejaculation is a safe and efficient method for collecting semen from leopard tortoises.

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Conservation physiology

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