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Emily Parks, Staff Writer

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Science is constantly changing and advancing. Scientists have been experimenting with using artificial insemination, using sperm that was frozen then thawed, to develop animals. One of the recent results of artificial insemination is a penguin at Sea World.

Dr. O’Brien, the Sea World Reproductive Center’s Scientific Director said “The goal of our research center 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 our zoological populations but wild populations as well.”

She explains the process, saying “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.”

The first penguin to be born as a result of artificial insemination was born a little over 12 weeks ago at Sea World in San Diego, California. The baby Magellanic penguin, a South American penguin, found in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, is referred to as 184.

An estimate of 1.8 million Magellanic penguins are living in the wild. The species is “near threatened,” due to oil spills, a decline in fish populations, and climate change. O’Brien says the successful breeding of 184 is not only helpful for research purposes but could help scientists in future efforts to increase the amount of penguins and other species in the wild.

At first, she was fed a special formula which included ground herring, krill, minerals, vitamins and water. She was fed the formula five times a day for four weeks until she began to eat fish on her own. 184 also mingles with other penguins in her enclosure and blends in as a natural-born member of the group. Although this is a major advance, it is not the first time Sea World has produced an animal from artificial insemination.

Sea World successfully completed the first artificial insemination of an animal in captivity in 2000. However, this was the first time it had been successful on a penguin. Penguin 184 is the first of her kind and holds a special place in history.

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