U.S. SeaWorld Claims Dolphin Breeding Breakthrough
SAN DIEGO SeaWorld San Diego said Friday it succeeded in selecting the gender of a baby dolphin -- a first that could improve the population of captive sea mammals and reduce the need for new captures.
SeaWorld announced the breakthrough the same day the 2-month old female Atlantic bottlenose dolphin, who does not yet have a name, was introduced to the media.
The mother dolphin, a 26-year-old named Sandy, was artificially inseminated 14 months ago and the calf was born in October.
SeaWorld scientist Justine O'Brien said conservation officials at the park had only recently been able to confirm the calf was indeed female -- the gender scientists had selected -- because it had stayed so close to its mother since birth.
The calf was bred using a sperm-sorting technology developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a Fort Collins, Colorado, company called XY Inc. Gender-selecting techniques are already used with horses, sheep, cattle and other land animals.
Tom Gilligan of XY Inc. described the dolphin's birth as "a real breakthrough" that would lessen the need for new captures to vary the gene pool of captive marine mammals.
SeaWorld scientists developed an artificial insemination technique to impregnate dolphins, as well as methods to freeze and transport sperm.
Males and females have trouble mixing socially, O'Brien said. So captive dolphins are kept in separate tanks -- and the females are better at living together in groups.