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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Europe's first killer whale born after artificial insemination - and she weighs 23 STONE

By Daily Mail Reporter

Mother and baby: Wikie, bottom, swims with her girl in Marineland aquatic park in Antibes

A killer whale born in France is thought to be Europe's first to have been conceived via artificial insemination.

Following a pregnancy lasting more than 18 months, 11-year-old Wikie - herself born in the water park - gave birth last month to her 6.5ft baby at Marineland in Antibes.

The calf, a girl, weighed just over 23 stone when she was born in mid-March.

The birth followed a decade of work by the French park and American researcher Todd Robeck, from SeaWorld in San Antonio, Texas, according to The Riviera Times.

This is how you do it: Wikie jumps with her baby at the park

She was fathered by Ulysses, a male from San Diego's SeaWorld, and is Wikie's first offspring.

Jon Kershaw, Marineland's wildlife director, told the paper: 'The baby orca has survived its first month after birth. This time is very dangerous for most offspring, but fortunately she has pulled through it and we are ecstatic to have her as part of the family.

'It takes months to train the killer whales to calmly accept insemination and a dose of two million sperms are usually injected into the female whales to get them pregnant.

'In Wikie’s case, she had 4 doses injected into her ovaries.'

The baby girl has yet to be named, and the park is holding a competition using Facebook to help decide.



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