Penguin is first of her kind in the world - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Penguin is first of her kind in the world

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - For the thousands who come visit SeaWorld's Penguin Encounter here every day it is an amazing experience. 

But what they may not realize is that they're also witnessing the an amazing scientific breakthrough.

"This right here is Magellan Number 184."

This adorable feathered phenom -- now just 12 weeks old -- is one of hundreds of birds who have hatched here at SeaWorld over the years. So many - they have numbers instead of names.

But how this majestic Magellan penguin came to be sets her apart from all the rest. 

"A very historic Magellan actually."

Historic, because 184 is the first of any penguin species to be produced thru artificial insemination using frozen-then-thawed semen.

A revolutionary technique pioneered here at the SeaWorld Reproductive Research Center.

Cutting edge reproductive technology 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 Dr. Justine O'Brien, SeaWorld Reproductive Research Center. 

Ensuring future generations of incredible creatures like these. An amazing miracle of nature with some awe-inspiring assistance from science and technology.

"You couldn't tell... She is happy and healthy and that's what we want to see," said Dr. O'Brien.

Number 184 will turn three months next week.

After she hatched on May 14, she was hand-raised in SeaWorld's penguin nursery, fed a special formula of ground herring fillets, krill, vitamins, minerals and water for four weeks. She's now weaned off formula and eating solid fish.

Since 1980, more than 600 penguin chicks have been hatched and raised at SeaWorld including the first-ever chinstrap and emperor penguins.

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