Reproduction in Rockhopper Penguins
Penguin at the Indianapolis Zoo!
Rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes crestatus) are involved in a research
initiative entitled Project Penguin. Project Penguin was developed in
2001 because for many years, our rockhopper penguin colony laid 12-15 eggs
each season and only produced 1-2 chicks. With this in mind, we soon
realized that our current population is not self-sustaining and birds are
quite difficult to obtain.
The staff investigated the situation and determined that we needed to
evaluate the sperm quality. Through behavioral, physiological and
reproductive research, several males were conditioned for milking.
Since this had never been done with rockhopper penguins, training started
with learning how to collect semen on chickens at Purdue University.
We then took those techniques and developed our penguin training protocols.
With each breeding season, we are getting closer in establishing baseline
data for sperm quality. Due to our aging population, we are also uncovering
at what age sperm production decreases.
PHOTO: Keepers in the process of milking sperm from a male