The 60th Humboldt Penguin has hatched at Woodland Park Zoo’s new penguin exhibit.
The Zoo’s first breeding season began in 2010, and the latest chick hatched on March 17. Although keepers don’t yet know the sex of the chick, a naming contest was organized.
The community has been invited to vote on one of the following Spanish names: Sesenta (means 60), Diamante (diamond = for 60th anniversary), and Amor (love). The poll began March 30 and voting concludes today, April 3. Vote through the end of today via the Zoo’s special facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/WoodlandParkZooSeattle/
The chick’s parents, 9-year-old dad, Mateo, and 4-year-old mom, Mini, have raised chicks with other mates but the new chick is the first offspring between the pair.
To date, a total of six chicks have been produced in the current breeding season, with a couple more chicks anticipated to hatch. All the chicks are off exhibit, in nesting burrows, where they are under the care of the parents. Staff minimizes intervention to allow the parents to raise their chicks and gain parental experience. To ensure the chicks are achieving growth milestones staff regularly weigh them as they develop.
Before new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they are removed from the nest so keepers can condition the birds to approach them for hand feeding and other animal care activities. Chicks also are given round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment. New chicks join the colony in the outdoor exhibit sometime in early summer.
People do not usually think of penguins as a desert species. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) inhabit hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile. They live on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands.
Humboldt Penguins have a body made to swim. Using their strong wings, they “fly” underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.
Classified as a “Vulnerable” species by the IUCN, approximately 30,000 to 40,000 Humboldt Penguins survive in their natural range.
Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt Penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, Peru*. They also help preserve the species by breeding the birds through the Species Survival Plan and by encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options.
*Punta San Juan is home to 5,000 Humboldt Penguins, the largest colony in Peru.