Sea World’s Dolphin Breeding Breakthrough

What better way to get the New Year off to a great start than with some interesting dolphin news? Officials at Sea World San Diego, in a history-making move, were able to pre-select the gender of a dolphin before conception.

In October 2004, animal reproduction scientists with Busch Entertainment Corp., the owner of SeaWorld, artificially inseminated Sandy, a 26-year-old Atlantic bottlenose dolphin using technology developed in conjunction with the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture and Colorado State University.

Since captive male and female dolphins are typically kept in separate tanks, breeding them is difficult and many of the mammals that do reproduce naturally in captivity tend to produce more male offspring. Scientists hope this technological breakthrough will provide a means of varying the gene pool and lessen the need for new captures. By balancing the male-to-female ratio of their marine mammal collections, zoos & marine parks will be able to produce social groupings more like those found in the wild.

Although the dolphin calf was born after a normal 12 month gestation period, Sea World officials were delayed in confirming that the calf was indeed female — the gender scientists had pre-selected — because they didn’t want to disrupt the crucial mother-calf bonding process that occurs in the initial 2 months post-birth.

Read more about this story here and here.

Sandy, the proud momma dolphin