World’s first test-tube penguin born

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The world’s first penguin conceived by artificial insemination has gone on display in San Diego.

The 12-week-old female has joined other naturally-born Magellanic penguins on display at SeaWorld.

The scientific first is a result of a decade of research by Dr Todd Robeck, SeaWorld’s vice president of theriogenology, and Dr Justine O’Brien, scientific director of the SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Centre.

Dr O’Brien said: “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.

“We have also use 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 maximise the genetic diversity of these populations and ensure there’s sustainability into the long term.”

The bird was hatched in May, and was hand-reared by experts in the Penguin Encounter nursery.

Due to the sheer number of penguins born at SeaWorld they are numbered rather than names, and she is known as 184.

For the first four weeks of her life she was fed a special formula of ground herring fillets, krill, minerals, vitamins and water. Now she is older she is able to feed on fish.

She is one of more than 600 penguin chicks hatched and raised by SeaWorld since 1980.

The reproductive centre has pioneered in artificial insemination for managing zoological populations and, since the world’s first marine mammal was conceived by artificial insemination in 2000, almost 50 calves have been born at SeaWorld and other collaborating zoo’s using this technique.

Magellanic penguins are typically found around the Falkland Islands and South America. They grow to around 27in and, on average, weigh around 8.8lbs.