A trio of Gentoo Penguin chicks is delighting guests at the Tennessee Aquarium. Two chicks hatched on July 18 to different parents, and another chick hatched on July 30. All three are on exhibit, so aquarium visitors can see the parents caring for and feeding the chicks throughout the day.
Aquarium aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich says the first 30 days are critical for young birds, but all three are doing well under their parents’ care. “So far the parents are feeding well and the chicks are all very vocal, seem strong and are all moving around the nests, but they still have a long road ahead,” said Aldrich. She notes that the dynamic in the Penguin colony has changed with the chicks’ arrival. “The parents are very protective of the chicks and their nests, but even the birds without chicks are still very excited about what’s going on in the other nests,” she said.
Senior aviculturist Amy Graves notes that for now, the adults sit right on top of the Penguin chicks in the nest. “It’s just amazing to see such big birds sitting on such a tiny, fragile little chick in a rocky nest. They have to be so careful because one wrong move and they could injure the chick,” she said.
Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium
Video Credit: Jane Corn
Keepers track feedings and weights carefully to ensure the new Penguins are getting enough food from the parents. Once these Gentoo Penguin chicks become more mobile, keepers have the additional chore of making sure they don’t wander out of the nest too soon. “This first month of life is critical to all baby penguins,” said Dave Collins, the Aquarium’s curator of forests. “We won’t rest easy until these chicks have shed their soft, downy feathers and have taken their first supervised swim with the other penguins.”
Gentoo Penguins are native to Antarctica and surrounding waters. They are listed as near threatened by the International Union for the Conservation of nature (IUCN).