Penguin Chicks Hatched Using Artificial Insemination
A Japanese aquarium said it had hatched two Humboldt penguin chicks, the first time the technique has been successfully deployed for the species.
A Japanese aquarium said Wednesday it had hatched two Humboldt penguin chicks after using artificial insemination, the first time the technique has been successfully deployed for the vulnerable species.
The two chicks were born early April after frozen then thawed sperm from a male penguin was used to inseminate a female penguin at the Shimonoseki Marine Science Museum in Yamaguchi prefecture in western Japan.
"I was speechless when the babies were born safely thanks to the success of the artificial insemination," Teppei Kushimoto, who is in charge of the penguins at the aquarium, told AFP.
The aquarium said it had taken four years of experiments for scientists to figure out how to collect, freeze, and correctly time the artificial insemination for the penguins.
"We have tried again and again, after numerous failures," Kushimoto added.
The aquarium said it hoped the development could help safeguard the rare flightless birds, which are designated as "vulnerable" by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
"We believe this will be an effective technique that can contribute to the conservation of the penguins," it said in a statement.
A 'vulnerable' listing on IUCN's Red List means the species faces a heightened risk of extinction in the wild.
The Humboldt penguin, a South American bird which breeds in coastal Peru and Chile, is at risk due to pollution, especially oil spills, over-fishing of the species they eat, and problems with the medium-sized birds becoming entangled in fishing nets.
The Japanese breakthrough comes nearly two years after SeaWorld in San Diego said it had hatched a Magellanic penguin - which is not an IUCN threatened species - using artificial insemination with frozen then thawed semen.
Penguins! Unlike the dodo, this flightless bird has figured out how to make a go of it, capturing our hearts into the bargain. With winter well underway, and a historic blizzard pummeling the east coast as we speak, what better time to chill with some pictures of penguins? Enjoy these amazing creatures!
Once waterbound, penguins are fantastic swimmers that can zoom through the ocean at some 15 to 20 miles per hour.
There are 18 species of penguin, ranging in size and even color.
Sometimes they're blue.
Some penguins receive checkups from tiny robot penguins. This remote-controlled fake penguin's job is to read radio tags placed by researchers on actual penguins.
A penguin couple holds hands, or flippers. Penguin couples are monogamous during mating time.
It can vary a bit by species, but wild penguins can live from 15 to 20 years or so.
Emperor penguin siblings take in the scenery. The Emperor is the largest species of penguin. When these two grow up they'll weigh around 75 pounds and stand about 3 feet 7 inches tall.
Emperor penguin chicks will begin to fledge once they hit about half their adult size.
This nest has a mouth to feed. Penguins eat krill, fish, squid and other types of marine life they can fetch while underwater.
This African penguin, found on the continent's southwestern coast, is also called a jackass penguin, although it won't answer to that name.
Penguins are quite nearsighted when on dry land. It's underwater where their vision really steps it up. There, they can really hone in on the colors of the ocean such as blue or violet. Such eyesight helps them avoid being eaten by killer whales or leopard seals, their chief predators of the deep.
King penguins, that is. They're the second-largest penguins, after the Emperors.
Penguins do enjoy a crowd. The Southern hemisphere wins the penguin population census. It's tempting to think penguins mostly hang out in Antarctica, but they're actually all over the lower half of the planet, and further north than you might guess. From islands in the South Pacific, to Australia, New Zealand, South America and South Africa, you can find penguins making a living. There are even three species that call places as far north as the Galapagos Islands home.
Should this gang on the ferry ride decide to go for a swim, they could stay underwater for about 15 to 20 minutes and go as deep as nearly 300 feet (91 meters).