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Monterey's First Ever Blackfooted Penguin Chick!

Penguin hatchling at Monterey Bay Aquarium

Meet the Monterey Bay Aquarium's first-ever African Blackfooted Penguin chick. Born January 8th, the chick is just two days old in the featured picture and video. The chick is vocalizing and appears to be doing well, said Aimee Greenebaum, associate curator of aviculture. During a quick exam on January 10, the chick weighed approximately 4.2 ounces (120.5 grams), nearly double what it weighed only one day before, Greenebaum said. “That weight gain means the first-time parents are feeding it regularly,” she said. “They’re being very attentive.” But protective parents and a high nesting site inside the exhibit unfortunately means that visitors are unlikely to see the chick. 

UPDATE: Monterey Bay Aquarium welcomed their second-ever Blackfooted Penguin chick just yesterday. Video below.

Photo and video credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Despite excellent parental and veterinary care, Greenebaum cautions that blackfooted penguin chicks have a high rate of mortality, especially those hatched to first-time parents. Read more below the fold...

If all goes well, the chick will remain in its nest for approximately three weeks or until it starts wandering out on its own, Greenebaum said. Then staff will then move it behind-the-scenes where it will be hand-raised to become comfortable with people. The chick will be raised as an “education bird,” meaning it is likely to interact with the public as part of educational programs at the aquarium or if transferred to another institution.

The chick will return to its “Splash Zone” exhibit around 80 days of age. It will be introduced to the exhibit slowly, and remain under watchful observation and removed at night until the staff feels confident it can swim, get in and out of the water, and not be harassed by other birds,

Because of their genetic importance to the captive population, the aquarium received permission to breed Umngane and Dassen from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits animal institutions in the United States, through its Species Survival Plan for African blackfooted penguins.