The ethical assessment of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) in wildlife conservation

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
Barbara de Mori, Elena Mercugliano, Pierfrancesco Biasetti, Ilaria Pollastri, Maria Michela Spiriti, Daniela Florio, Francesco Andreucci, Frank Göritz, Susanne Holtze, Cesare Galli, Jan Stejskal, Silvia Colleoni, Giovanna Lazzari, Steven Seet, Jan Zwilling, David Ndeereh, Isaac Lekolool, Stephen Ngulu, Dominic Mijele, Daniel Čižmár, Raffaella Simone, Lisa Schrade, Simone Basile, Thomas B. Hildebrandt
Biological Conservation
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The application of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) in breeding programs to save wild animal species is a relatively new approach to conservation and their ethical implications seem still to be underestimated. However, the ethical evaluation is a decisive step for conservation projects employing ART to address crucial questions like the welfare and life of the animals involved, the survival of the targeted species, the quality and safety of the procedures and the very idea of biodiversity conservation we want to pursue. Balancing the potential benefits of ART with the risks involved requires careful ethical analysis. This paper highlights the increasing role of ART in species conservation and emphasizes the need to address their ethical implications. After discussing the lack of ethical discussion in ART application to wildlife, the contribution outlines an ethical frame to address this gap and introduces an ethical assessment tool (ETHAS) for the ethical self-assessment of ART procedures in vertebrate conservation. The tool allows respondents to highlight ethical aspects to be improved and risks related to the procedure, from its design to each application. The ethical approach to the ART application, relatively novel to wildlife conservation, can contribute to assure the ethical acceptability of conservation programs while favoring discussion and communication among project partners and the integration of ethical aspects in conservation programs.


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