Scientists still don’t have an accurate way to determine if a polar bear is pregnant. Monitoring progesterone and ultrasounds are not effective. However, they did have a bit of a secret weapon.
A 2-year-old Beagle named Elvis can sniff out pregnancies. Elvis helps scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW).
Elvis can determine if a polar bear is pregnant by smelling her fecal samples. Elvis’ accuracy is around 95 to 97 percent correct, which is nearly as accurate as human over-the-counter pregnancy tests.
“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.
After Cincinnati Zoo officials were hopeful that Berlin and her mate, Nikita, had conceived, Elvis was able todetermine if the female was pregnant. To their dismay, Berlin was not carrying a child, but the definitive answer is good news.
Berlin had been separated from her mate because she was believed to be pregnant. Now, she couldreturn to him.
Matt Skogen, who trained him, said: “It never ceases to amaze me, this dog’s ability. A dog that size probably has close to 140 million sent receptors.”
Determining pregnancy is less like work and more like a game for Elvis. The beagle shows that dogs arenot just humans’ little helpers, but that they can have symbiotic relationships with other creatures as well.
Due to restrictions, this video cannot
be viewed in your region.