SAN DIEGO (CNN/KFMB) — For the thousands who visit SeaWorld’s Penguin Encounter in San Diego every day, it is an amazing experience.
But what they may not realize is that they’re also witnessing an amazing scientific breakthrough.
“This right here is Magellan Number 184,” says the penguin’s caregiver.
This adorable feathered phenom is now just 12 weeks old and is one of hundreds of birds who’ve hatched here at SeaWorld over the years.
“Magellan 184 began as a humble egg in our incubators,” said the caregiver.
There are so many that they have numbers, instead of names.
“184 grew up like any other bird that grew up in our nursery,” said the caregiver.
But how this majestic Magellan penguin came to be sets her apart from all the rest.
“A very historic Magellan, actually,” said the caregiver.
It’s historic because “184” is the first of any penguin species to be produced through artificial insemination — using frozen-then-thawed semen.
“We keep these vials of semen here,” said Justine O’Brien, with the SeaWorld Reproductive Research Center.
It’s a revolutionary technique pioneered here at the SeaWorld Reproductive Research Center.
“The semen is drawn up by this catheter into the syringe,” said O’Brien.
It’s cutting-edge reproductive technology.
“All we’re doing is helping the sperm get further along into that position for fertilization,” said O’Brien.
That is also making major strides in conservation efforts — and potentially helping threatened or endangered species in the wild.
“Artificial insemination and semen preservation allows us to maximize the genetic diversity of these populations, and that means that they remain healthy and stable into the future,” said O’Brien.
That ensures future generations of incredible creatures like these — an amazing miracle of nature with some awe-inspiring assistance from science and technology.