Foal Birth to be Broadcast Live on Penn Vet's Website

For the first time in the school’s history, the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (Penn Vet) will broadcast live the birth of a special foal via a "Foal Cam" inside the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU at Penn Vet’s New Bolton Center, in Kennett Square, Pa.

People across the country and around the world will have the opportunity to monitor the mare, My Special Girl, before the arrival of the foal, and witness the live birth. The live broadcast will be available around the clock on the Penn Vet website at beginning on Feb. 26, when My Special Girl enters the stall at the NICU. My Special Girl is due to foal in mid-March.

“We hope that sharing the birth of this foal will give the world a window into New Bolton Center, and showcase our caring clinicians and staff, and our expertise in reproduction and neonatal intensive care,” said Corinne Sweeney, DVM, Associate Dean of New Bolton Center.

Once the foal is born, Penn Vet will hold a naming contest.

This foal, in particular, represents the first successful pregnancy by Penn Vet using the advanced reproductive technique intracytoplasmic sperm injection (known as ICSI) which involves injecting a single sperm into a mature egg. This ICSI embryo was transferred to My Special Girl in early April 2013.

“My Special Girl’s pregnancy is the first of what we hope will be many ICSI pregnancies created right here at Penn,” said Regina Turner, VMD, PhD, associate professor of large animal reproduction at New Bolton’s Hofmann Center for Reproduction and Behavior and the director of the Hofmann Center’s Stallion Frozen Semen Program.

Penn Medicine’s Matthew VerMilyea, PhD, director of the In Vitro Fertilization and Andrology Laboratories at Penn Medicine, is performing ICSI for the Hofmann Center. ICSI is a common procedure in human medicine that revolutionized the treatment of male infertility. VerMilyea is using a microscope with laser technology, used for humans but rarely used in the ICSI procedure in horses.

“It is exciting,” said VerMilyea, who is performing the ICSI procedure on several equine eggs provided by Hofmann this year. “It is great to be able to apply the tools and skills that we commonly use in treating human infertility, and make slight adjustments that allow us to cross over into the animal world.”

My Special Girl, an 11-year-old Thoroughbred, was donated to New Bolton Center’s herd of horses used for teaching veterinary students. The egg for the foal came from a Thoroughbred/Cleveland Bay cross mare. The sperm was from frozen semen from a long-deceased Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse cross stallion that was part of the Hofmann Center’s teaching program.

The foal will remain in the New Bolton Center family, as it will be adopted by Rose Nolen-Walston, DVM, an assistant professor of medicine at New Bolton Center, who lives on a nearby farm. Lisa Fergusson of Cochranville, Pa., a former Canadian Olympic eventing team member, will be the foal’s trainer when it is ready to begin its athletic career.

More details, including photos and video, are available online

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