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How do they get the sperm used in artificial insemination of animals?

Dear Cecil:

Everyone knows that nowadays artificial insemination is used to breed everything from cattle and horses to rhinos, gorillas, and humans.

I know how they get sperm from humans, but how do they get it from bulls and male gorillas? Do they show them dirty heifer pictures? Gorilla porn? Do they use blow-up female rhino dolls? The mind boggles.

S.J. Cowdery, Dallas

Illustration by Slug Signorino

Cecil replies:

Go boggle on your own time, pal.

In keeping with the Straight Dope tradition of brutal frankness, however, I may as well tell you that perhaps the most common method of sperm collection involves an artificial vagina.

I had thought to edify the Teeming Millions with a do-it-yourself version of this technique taken from an animal breeding manual. But on second thought it’s too icky for words.

Suffice it to say the method involves a 2-3/4-inch automobile radiator hose 18 inches long, a 30-by-3-inch automobile inner tube, and a family-size bottle of Vaseline.

An entirely different method, it says here, is “rectal massage of the ampulla.” They even show pictures, for Chrissake. Just be grateful I’m doing this job and not you.

Notes from the gutter

Dear Cecil:

Regarding collecting semen from bulls for artificial insemination, I used to work at a vet clinic where we did fertility checks on bulls. We used an apparatus known as an electro-ejaculator that was basically the size of a man’s arm.

You inserted the device into the rectum (of the bull, silly) and turned it on to achieve the desired results. Not a pretty picture, but I swear it’s true.

— Chris Voorhees, Studio City, California

Cecil Adams

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