Adventure Aquarium's penguin colony grew by one last month when they welcomed an African Black-Footed Penguin chick on January 11th. The little critter, whose gender is still unknown, was about the size of a golf ball and weighted just sixty grams when it first hatched. That did not last long however, as the little one is growing faster than keepers can keep track. By January 25th, just two weeks after pecking its way out of its egg, the chick had already exploded to a weight of over one and a quarter pounds and now stands over six inches tall.
The baby is the first for parents Kali and Tyson who were paired for breeding by the Association of Zoo and Aquarium's (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). They have a tall order caring for their rapidly growing first-born who is dependent on them for warmth until it can regulate its own temperature at around one month old. Until then, Kali and Tyson will take turns incubating the baby and brining back food for their growing child.
The African Black-Footed Penguin, the only penguin species found in Africa, was once quite abundant with an estimated four million in existence at the beginning of the 20th century. That number dropped dramatically to 200,000 by the year 2000 and has continued to fall to an estimated 55,000 living today. This rapid decline has led to a classification of endangered on the IUCN's Red List. It is estimated that if this trend continues the species will be extinct in the next fifteen years. With such a imperiled future, every birth can be considered a victory.