The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio has welcomed three Humboldt Penguins to the zoo’s Shores region. The chicks hatched in March and are three of over 20 Humboldt Penguins to hatch at the zoo since 1996.
Although animal care staff can tell the chicks apart by personality, they will place a colored wing band on the chicks to easily identify them as they start to explore their habitat. All three chicks are doing well and have passed their wellness check-up with flying colors.
The first to hatch weighed 85 grams, the second weighed 79 grams and the third chick, which hatched last, week weighed in at 56 grams. The first two chicks are males, but the third chick’s sex has yet to be determined.
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Humboldt Penguins, found along the coasts of Peru and Chile, are classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The first two chicks are Fritz and Tressel’s offspring, which was a recommended breeding by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan. Since they became a breeding pair in 2005 they have had six chicks.
In addition to Fritz and Tressel's two chicks, another breeding pair, Hans and Katja, had two eggs. However during the Arctic blast that swept through Ohio, the pair had difficulties incubating the first egg and it was sent to Brookfield Zoo to hatch, as recommended by the AZA. After the bitter cold weather, Hans and Katja bred again and were successful in keeping their second clutch warm, which was the third chick that hatched last week.
Breeding season is an important part of the Humboldt Penguin’s life cycle and the instinct for birds to reproduce yearly is very strong. Currently the chicks are nesting, but will start to venture out when they begin to fledge around 4 to 6-weeks-old.