In collaboration with the Cincinnati Zoo in the US and its Center for Research of Endangered Wildlife, CREW, genetic research carried out by Al Ain Zoo has facilitated a one-of-a-kind successful artificial insemination experiment. In 2003, scientists at the Research Center started an artificial insemination programme, by freezing sperm samples from a male Arabian sand cat in Al Ain Zoo, which currently has the largest number of Arabian sand cats in the world with a total of 40. In 2010, the artificial insemination was successful, and later in 2018, sperm samples were used to breed cats from North America, Europe and the Middle East, which resulted in the birth of three cats. Unfortunately, complications while giving birth caused their death.
Furthermore, Al Ain Zoo and its partners have launched programmes to protect the Arabian sand cat, the first of which was in 2013 under the title, "Preserving the Arabian sand cats". The second, in 2014, was called, “Managing the number of Arabian sand cats”. These two strategies were the first of their kind in the field of protecting the Arabian sand cat with local, regional and global participation.
Al Ain Zoo and concerned organizations in 2015, developed genetic management plans to start specialized breeding programmes by sending two male cats from the Zoo to specialized research centres in France. The aim of these breeding programmes is to examine the effects of genetic diversity and identify the challenges and opportunities for improvement.
In 2017, the necessary tests were carried out to determine the most appropriate species for breeding, in order to avoid side effects that may result from inter-breeding different species such as Asian and African cats. One of the most important results of the genetic testing was discovering a match between Arabian and Asian cats and incompatibility between them and African cats, resulting in a relatively large presence of Asian and Arabian cats compared to those in Africa.
Meanwhile, the efforts of the Zoo in collaboration with the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in wildlife field research are still ongoing. The research includes monitoring and studying the numbers of Arabian sand cats in the wild by specialized teams aiming to learn and observe their lives in natural wild habitats.