An African Penguin chick has hatched at Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey. (Forgive the title--we couldn't help it!) A healthy, active, 2.5-ounce (72 g) ball of fluff, whose gender is yet to be determined, was born to parents Minnie and Kamikaze on January 5.
The day before, aquarium biologists had heard soft 'pipping' sounds from inside the egg as the chick readied itself to hatch by chipping away at its shell. They knew that a hatching was imminent. Sure enough, biologists arrived Sunday morning to see that the little chick had hatched overnight.
The chick is doing very well – strong, vocal and very mobile. It is pictured at one day old, so tiny that it would fit in the palm of your hand!
This chick is Minnie and Kamikaze’s seventh since they became a breeding pair, and will be the fourth of theirs to call Adventure Aquarium home, along with siblings Myer, Jack and Jambo. Three of the pair’s other chicks were sent to other facilities across the country as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) breeding recommendations. An SSP coordinates breeding of genetically unrelated animals between AZA accredited facilities. This helps to prevent inbreeding and sustain a healthy population in captivity.
This effort takes on an even greater importance when the species is endangered in the wild, as are African Penguins. The greatest threat to these birds is competition with humans: as we continue to overfish, African Penguins lose their food source. Having a healthy captive population allows us to study the biology of a species for better conservation. In some case, it can also give us the ability to give wild populations a boost by releasing captive-bred individuals.
Today the chick will have its first veterinary checkup, and it will go through daily weigh-ins with aquarium biologists, who will ensure that the chick continues to thrive.
This weekend, January 11-12, Adventure Aquarium is hosting a Celebrity Penguin Weekend. Pumpkin and Patch, 'grandchicks' of Minnie and Kamikaze, will make their debut.
See more photos after the fold!