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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

image for Captive royals 'may save species'
a little less of this

Many royals held in captivity have "pure-bred ancestry" and could play a key role in the survival of their diminishing population, a study suggests.

A team using a new method for assessing the genetic ancestry of royals found that a number of "generic" princes of both sexes were actually pure-bred subspecies and should be immediately set out to stud.

Writing in Cracked Biology, they added that these royals also had genomic diversity no longer found in the wild.

Current estimates suggest that only about 300 royals remain in the wild.

In contrast, the international team of researchers noted, the global population of captive royals numbered between 1500 to 2000.

But they highlighted that less than 1,000 of these were managed within co-ordinated stud and breeding programmes that aimed to preserve the royals' genetic viability.

"Debates persist over the role of captive royals in conservation efforts," they observed, " and whether managed captive populations serve as adequate genetic reservoirs for the population.

"The observed mental and physical results of inbreeding have led to the commonly held consensus that the royal gene pool can never be mucked clean.

"That just isn't so," the scientists insist.

By culling defectives and controlling selective mating practices, the team says they are confident of rapid improvement.

"Have you had a close look at the royal family?" asked one team member, "It can't get any worse, mate."

The team concluded that a comprehensive programme to identify captive, fertile, fit royals and force them to make less offensively horsy and stupid mating choices could help secure the long-term survival of this endangered and iconoclastic population.

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, was unavailable for comment.

Tragic Rabbit, Royal Watchers Gazette, London

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