The Hong Kong Ocean Park and Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) jointly announced Thursday the successful birth of the world's first two bottlenose dolphin calves conceived by artificial insemination (AI).
The pioneering efforts, in collaboration with SeaWorld Adventure Parks USA, represent a major leap forward in the field of AI in marine mammals.
Two of Ocean Park's female dolphins, Ada and Gina delivered two healthy calves, a female and male respectively, on May 12, 2001. The names for the calves have not yet been decided.
Suzanne Gendron, Ocean Park's zoological operations and education director, said, "these successful births signify exciting new possibilities in maintaining and enhancing the genetic diversity of bottlenose dolphin collections world-wide."
Started in 1999, the researchers made a first-step success in June 2000 when mature female bottlenose dolphins were inseminated and the world's first AI pregnancy in a bottlenose dolphin was confirmed.
Dr. Brook, associate professor of PolyU, who led the research, said, "AI will maximize the use of the captive gene pool and may reduce the need to take more dolphins from the wild. In addition, in the future, it may be used to introduce new genes into other isolated groups of animals."
This work is continuing with the investigation of the best methods of cryopreservation - the freezing and storing of bottlenose dolphin semen.
If succeeded, it will provide the means to save and transport semen around the world, thus further enhancing the genetic health and sustainability of current bottlenose dolphin populations.
(People's Daily 06/29/2001)