Sunday, January 4, 2015

World’s First Test-Tube Penguin Born At California SeaWorld


An unnamed baby Magellanic penguin in California has made history and is now the center of attention at SeaWorld. The adorable female penguin is the world’s first penguin to be conceived by artificial insemination, using semen that was frozen and then thawed, reports The Daily Mail.

Though she was born a little over 12 weeks ago, her photos are just now being released to the public. The baby Magallanic penguin, being referred to right now as 184, was hand-reared at Sea World’s Penguin Encounter Nursery. When 184 hatched, she was fed a special formula made by her caretakers. The formula included ground herring, krill, minerals, vitamins and water. She was fed the formula five times a day for four weeks. 184 is now eating fish and has been put in with the attraction’s other Magellanic penguin babies that were conceived the old-fashioned way.

Her birth is a result of a decade of scientific research by SeaWorld’s Vice President of Theriogenology Dr. Todd Robeck and the Reproductive Centre’s Scientific Director Dr. Justine O’Brien. “The goal of our research centre is to study a species’ reproductive biology, to learn as much as we can about that, and use this to not only monitor the health of not only our zoological populations but wild populations as well. The semen is drawn up this catheter into the syringe. All we’re doing is helping the sperm get further along into that position for fertilization,” Dr. O’Brien explained. “We have also used this information to develop system reproductive technologies such as artificial insemination and semen preservation. These technologies are important conservation tools as they allow us to maximize the genetic diversity of these populations and ensure there’s sustainability into the long term,” Dr. O’Brien added.
Dr. O’Brien says that she believes the success of 184 will aid future efforts to increase the numbers of other threatened penguin populations. Many penguin species are being threatened by climate change, diminished fish supply and oil spills.

SeaWorld has run a successful penguin breeding program since the 1980s. They have successfully had 600 penguin chicks hatched and raised at the park. The park uses both assisted and natural reproductive technologies in their program, and by doing so, they have maintained a genetically “diverse and sustainable population” of penguins, reports The Metro. “Artificial insemination and semen preservation allows us to maximize the genetic diversity of these populations, and that means that they remain healthy and stable into the future. You could not tell if she was from frozen-thawed or fresh, chilled semen or even from natural breeding,” said O’Brien. “She’s happy and healthy, and that’s what we want to see.”

[Photo courtesy of]


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