First in the world: Japan breeds endangered penguin through artificial insemination

  • The Kaiyukan aquarium in Osaka, Japan said that it has become the world’s first to succeed in artificial insemination of southern rockhopper penguin
  • The aquarium teamed up with Hiroshi Kusunoki of Kobe University Graduate School of Agricultural Science for the project
  • Tokyo Sea Life Park provided a healthy sperm sample from a male penguin for the insemination

OSAKA, Japan – The Kaiyukan aquarium in Osaka, Japan said that it has become the world’s first to succeed in artificial insemination of a species of penguin which is at high risk of extinction.

The Japan Times mentioned in an article that the baby penguin was born on June 6 and has grown to weigh 724 grams; developing quickly and allowing the chick to be now on display at the aquarium.

The southern rockhopper penguin, whose scientific name is Eudyptes chromosome, is designated to be a vulnerable species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources’ Red List of Threatened Species.

The southern rockhopper penguin breeds on islands near Antarctica and Kaiyukan aquarium was the first in the world to successfully breed them through artificial insemination.

The aquarium teamed up with Hiroshi Kusunoki of Kobe University Graduate School of Agricultural Science for the project, and the Tokyo Sea Life Park, which provided a healthy sperm sample from a male penguin.

Kaiyukan performed the artificial insemination using the sperm obtained from Tokyo Sea Life Park, which were given to the three female penguins last April. In June, three chicks were born and through DNA tests, it was confirmed that one of them was conceived through artificial insemination.

Kaiyukan said they managed to know when is the most appropriate time for insemination; thanks to all the data they have accumulated throughout the years since they started trying in 2011.

“We’ll foster the chicks carefully so we can contribute to efforts to increase their offspring using technology,” said Kiyonori Nishida who is the head of Kaiyukan.

An article by Reuters said that as per latest weighing on Wednesday, the penguin was at 1,210 grams (2.6 pounds); a healthy weight for a penguin at that age.

A representative from the aquarium said the joint research project will continue to try to increase the breeding rate of the species.

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