The relevant information:
A two-year-old beagle’s nose is about as accurate as an over-the-counter pregnancy test. Scientists at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Center for Conservation & Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) tested to see if a dog named Elvis could distinguish a pregnant polar bear from a non-pregnant bear by smelling fecal samples last year. Elvis was 97 per cent accurate. He was trained to pause and sit when he detects a pregnancy and to not show interest in samples from non-pregnant bears. After his training, Elvis was put to the test in October 2013. He was given 34 samples of feces to sniff from the 17 potentially pregnant polar bears that mated in the spring. The zoos that participated in this study were then told whether or not Elvis suspected their polar bears were pregnant.
This study is meant to help zoos determine whether or not they should mimic wild conditions for pregnant polar bears in the winter. In the wild, pregnant polar bears enter dens and don’t eat or drink for months. Non-pregnant bears spend the winter outside of dens. Zoos want to isolate the pregnant bears with little disruption and film them to know when babies are born and let non-pregnant females enjoy winter by swimming and socializing while out on exhibit with the other bears.
This sniffer-dog project is still in the testing phase.