Summary. Electroejaculates from tigers were collected and half was used fresh to inseminate tiger eggs in vitro and domestic cat eggs stored in a hypertonic salt solution. The remainder was pelleted, frozen in a solution of 20% egg yolk, 11% lactose and 4% glycerol, thawed and cultured with tiger and domestic cat eggs. The motility index ((sperm % motility) + (status rating × 20))/2 for thawed spermatozoa was about 86% of that in fresh aliquots. Of the 49 tiger oocytes inseminated in vitro with fresh spermatozoa, 34 (69·4%) cleaved, compared with 33 of 47 oocytes (70·2%) cultured with thawed spermatozoa (P > 0·05). Embryos generated by either sperm treatment could develop in vitro to the 16-cell or morula stage. Fresh and thawed tiger spermatozoa were equally capable (P > 0·05) of binding and penetrating the outer and inner zona pellucida of domestic cat eggs. These results demonstrate the ability of frozen–thawed tiger spermatozoa to (i) penetrate homologous and heterologous eggs and (ii) result in conspecific, advanced development of preimplantation embryos in vitro.
Keywords: tiger; spermatozoa; cryopreservation; in vitro fertilization; embryo