Is your polar bear pregnant? Ask Elvis

Elvis is a very special beagle.  He’s been trained to sniff the feces of polar bears to determine if they are pregnant and his success rate is 97%.

Photo by Cincinnati Zoo

Photo by Cincinnati Zoo

Traditional pregnancy detection methods like hormone monitoring and ultrasounds don’t perform well when testing polar bears for pregnancy.  Scientists at Cincinnati’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife decided to try the beagle training since beagles perform so well as detector dogs in other settings.

Elvis is only 2 years old and so he hopefully has a long life ahead of him helping zoos in the United States determine if their polar bears are pregnant.

Climate change is causing a decrease in the amount of sea ice, which is affecting the polar bear population because it reduces their hunting season.  There have also been reports of drowned polar bears being found in the Arctic Ocean; the bears have become exhausted when swimming because of the increased times it is taking for them to reach the safety of ice again.

Polar bears have been listed as a Threatened Species under the Endangered Species Act.  The number of Polar Bears in the wild is expected to decline primarily due to starvation and decreased reproduction.

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