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Keywords:

  • avian;
  • paternity;
  • sperm

Abstract

This work was performed as part of a multi-year study to determine the cause of the low fertility in captive rockhopper penguins (Eudyptes chrysocome chrysocome) and attempt to increase the fertility through artificial insemination (AI). Semen collection and characterization was performed on 14 male rockhopper penguins. The samples were evaluated for volume, sperm concentration, and sperm quality (motility, forward motility, viability, and morphology). There was a large variation between individuals and between collections for each individual. Mean volume of ejaculate was 0.24 ml. Mean concentration was 47.09 × 106 sperm/ml. Mean number of sperm per collection was 6.57× 106. The mean motility was 49.4%. Mean forward motility was 1.7. Mean percentage of living sperm was 88.9%. Mean percentage of sperm with normal morphology was 69.4%. AI was performed on a total of 10 females using pooled semen samples. The birds were also allowed to naturally mate. Ten eggs were laid and three fertile eggs were produced, one of them hatched but died within 24 hr. Paternity testing was performed using 12 microsatellite loci, but unfortunately due to insufficient variability, the paternity of the chick and two embryos could not be determined. Zoo Biol 31: 166–180, 2012. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.