Darwin didn’t count on sperm banks

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The lion is king of the jungle, most noble of wild beasts, right? Well, it turns out there’s been a lot of incest in the royal family lately. Researchers from Tanzania to South Africa have found that rampant inbreeding among lion prides has hurt their ability to reproduce and fight disease.

African lions are far from extinct; but, given their poor choice of mates, South Africa’s Wildlife Breeding Centre wants to give natural selection a little push by introducing artificial insemination to lions, reports the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD.

The center has filled a sperm bank with samples from both wild and captive lions that were killed in fights or shot by poachers. Scientists will perform vasectomies on certain males in the Lion Safari Park near Johannesburg, then inseminate the females with sperm from the bank, in hopes of creating a new genetic strain of kings.

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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