SeaWorld San Diego Unveils Penguin Breeding Program Success

By Sarah Barnacle and R. Stickney
|  Saturday, Jun 8, 2013  |  Updated 9:20 AM PDT
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The chicks captured in this image from SeaWorld San Diego.

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Penguin Breeding Success Announced

SeaWorld San Diego boasted what's believed to be the first successful result of artificial insemination for penguins.
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SeaWorld San Diego has announced it has successfully produced the first penguins in the world conceived through artificial insemination.

"It's just amazing. It's an incredible feeling not only to work with these amazing animals but to know we're doing a lot of things that can help their species," said Lauren DuBois, Assistant Curator of Birds. 

On Thursday, DuBois unveiled one of four Magellanic penguins believed to be the first successful result of artificial insemination for any type of penguin.

There has been some work with artificial insemination with King penguins but that effort was unsuccessful.

“Timing is everything, as you can imagine with this,” she said.

There were four eggs that hatched as part of the project. DNA test results show two males inseminated three different females which helps with genetic diversity according to Dubois.

The chicks are being hand-raised in the world renowned nursery.

The SeaWorld and Busch Gardens Reproductive Research Center at SeaWorld San Diego is paving the way for reproductive management, including artificial insemination, sex predetermination and semen preservation technologies.

“Of the 18 species of penguins, 11 are considered endangered or threatened,” Dubois said. “We’re hoping maybe this can also apply to those wild populations that are threatened by a variety of man-made disasters."

Since the world’s first marine mammal born through artificial insemination took place in early 2000, SeaWorld and its collaborating zoological partners have seen the birth of 36 animals, including beluga whales, dolphins, and killer whales.

The South American breed is a welcomed attraction to SeaWorld San Diego, offering visitors a unique audio experience. Their peculiar call, which can be most described to that of a donkey braying, earns them the nickname of “jackass” penguins.

Soon the chicks will be moved to a public display in a habitat outside the entrance of the park’s Penguin Encounter, where visitors will be able to see the chicks grow up in America’s finest city.

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