Animals take birth control too.
At the Dallas Zoo, zookeepers have to get creative with the birth control they give to their animals.
Chimps, who are similar to humans biologically, take birth control just like women, but the keepers have to sneak it into their food, according to the Dallas Morning News. Some chimps take the pill in their juice, while others eat it in their oatmeal.
Birth control at zoos is an important matter of keeping breeding in line with space and health concerns, while also balancing the natural social order of the animals and accounting for animals that just don’t want to take their meds.
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The biggest problem we have with oral contraception in animals is poor compliance: They spit their pills out, or they dont eat enough of the feed or something like that, Christopher Bonar, Dallas Zoo director of animal health, told Dallas News.
In order to circumvent that, animals have similar options as humans to alternative birth control methods. Animals are given implants, injectables, and some are, of course, given hysterectomies and vasectomies. But there are also methods to biologically trick female animals into creating antibodies against their eggs called immunocontraception and some simpler methods, like keeping animals of different sexes apart.
Breeding zoo animals is a complicated business. Animals are often paired across the zoo network by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, who help to ensure that animals arent inbreeding and that certain struggling species are reproducing. Some animals are given birth control because they are too old to safely endure pregnancy and delivery.
Overall, there are very few unplanned births in zoos.
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But just like humans, sometimes birth control just doesnt work. While the world waited for zoo favorite April the Giraffe in upstate New York to give birth, a giraffe in Denver, Colo., Kipele, gave birth to a surprise male calf. The zookeepers had no idea she was pregnant because she was on birth control. The calf, Dobby, was welcomed into the zoo.