That time when: Artificial Dolphin Insemination

My parents met in the early 1980’s after my dad moved to Las Vegas for one of his first internships out of vet school. My mom had introduced him to her boss who also happened to be a veterinarian, and my dad and him struck up a long-lasting friendship. A friendship that would lead to a rather interesting marine mammal experience…

A couple decades after they met my dad got a phone call from his old veterinarian friend. One of the hotels in Vegas had a dolphin program as an attraction, but they were having trouble getting their dolphins to breed in captivity. The US Navy had a program where they train dolphins and sea lions to help them locate underwater items, and since my dad was in the US Army the friend thought he might be able to provide some resources to the hotel via the Navy to help their dolphins procreate.

Apparently my dad was successful in getting the hotel these resources because we were notified by my dad’s friend that if we wanted an in-person tour of the dolphin program the next time we were in Vegas to let him know.

“Hell yeah!” we said.

We grew up going to the Baltimore Aquarium where my brother and I were NEVER the lucky kids to get picked to put on the waders and pet the dolphins. Even though I was an angst-ridden 18 year old I told my dad it would be awesome if we could see the dolphins close up.

We had already planned a trip to Vegas that summer to see my mom’s side of the family, so we contacted the head of the dolphin program who originally reached out to my dad’s friend and let him know we’d be out there in July. The dolphin date was set.

The day we were to get our VIP tour we rolled up to the desk attendant at the dolphin attraction and told her we were there to meet the head dolphin doctor. A few minutes later he walked up in his wet suit and eagerly shook my dad’s hand. “Are you ready to see what your help has done for us?” he asked. He was excited to show us the results of my dad’s help in getting his dolphin’s baby making skills up to par.

It was a pretty cool tour. We got to tour the veterinary facility, see how their food was prepared, and learned a lot about training those super intelligent animals. At the end we got to the best part — we got to pet the dolphins. We went to a spot where all the tourists gathered for the show that they have and the dolphins swam up and lifted their tails in the air. We took turns petting them, it was like rubbing a slick wet rubber boot. And of course we posed for pictures.

Summer 2005, my Grandma and me

At this point we thought we were winding up and started to put our shoes on to head back home when our eager dolphin veterinarian asked us, “Do you want to see how we collect the sperm?”

Umm, what?

Not wanting to offend him — he did offer us this cool tour after all — we halfheartedly assented, but in his excitement I don’t think he noticed how reluctant we were. We moved a little bit to the side of the pool, but well within view of all the tourists who were excited to see what the hubbub was about. He ran over to the veterinary area and came back with what looked like an enormous baby bottle with a condom in it. “It’s similar to the device they use for horses, but we modified it to work on a dolphin.”

He did a hand signal in the water while using a whistle and the dolphin came over to the side of the pool and flipped over on his belly. He put his hand just in front of a hole on the dolphins stomach, and out popped the penis — it looked like a small skinny tube sock that had the bottom cut out.

At this point I’m trying not to lose it. I looked over at my dad and brother and notice their lips are both pursed as they’re trying to hold in their own laughter.

The veterinarian then placed the sperm collector on the dolphins penis and immediately pulled it off — too soon apparently, and dolphin splooge shot about 10 feet into the air. At this point I had to start looking at the ground as I’m convulsing with laughter. The veterinarian laughed as he realized his mistake, and then placed the device on the penis again to collect the rest of the sample.

I don’t remember much after that, I think because all I could think about was trying not to burst into laughter. I do remember collecting myself as we walked out of the dolphin attraction with my family, and then bursting into laughter with my brother and dad. ALL of us were surprised by what we witnessed, and my dad said “He [the vet] was just so excited I couldn’t say no…”.

Perhaps a more appropriate response from my dad would have been…

“Come again?”


Ken View All →

I am a Father, Husband, Cowboy Philosopher, Volunteer Firefighter, and Professional Dilettante. I am nothing and I am everything. But when it comes to our relationship: I only wish you wonder and happiness.

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