(KGTV) — Researchers announced Thursday that Victoria, a Southern White Rhino from the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, is pregnant.
The fetus was conceived through means of artificial insemination and is being monitored by scientists to see if she can carry her calf to term over 16 to 18 months of gestation.
The confirmation of this pregnancy through artificial insemination represents an historic event for our organization but also a critical step in our effort to save the Northern White Rhino," said Barbara Durrant, Director of reproductive Sciences at the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research.
If the pregnancy is successful, researchers hope someday she could become a surrogate mother and could give birth to the related Northern White Rhino, which is nearly extinct because of poachers.
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"We will know that they have proven themselves to be capable of carrying a fetus to term before we would risk putting a precious Northern White Rhino embryo into one of these Southern White Rhinos as a surrogate," Durant said.
The ultimate goal of this type of testing is to create a herd of five to 15 Northern White Rhinos that would be transitioned to their natural habitat in Africa, which could take decades.
Associated Press contributed to this article.