Theme park claims dolphin breeding breakthrough

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A US theme park says it has 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.

Sea World scientists in San Diego artificially inseminated the Atlantic bottlenose mother dolphin, a 26-year-old named Sandy, 14 months ago.

The calf was born in October.

Scientist Justine O’Brien says park conservation officials have only recently been able to confirm the sex of the calf because it has stayed so close to its mother since birth.

The calf was bred using a sperm-sorting technology developed by the US Agriculture Department and American company XY Inc.

Gender-selecting techniques are already used with horses, sheep, cattle and other land animals.

XY spokesman Tom Gilligan says the dolphin’s birth is “a real breakthrough” that would lessen the need for new captures to vary the gene pool of captive marine mammals.

Dr O’Brien says males and females have trouble mixing socially so captive dolphins are kept in separate tanks, making it harder to breed them.

She says her team has used the sperm-sorting technology to develop an artificial insemination technique to impregnate dolphins and have also created methods to freeze and transport sperm.

Source: Reuters