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A baby boom continues at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo with the hatching of three African Penguin chicks. The Zoo’s “clutch mate” chicks hatched on January 7 and January 9 (weighing in at 54 grams and 48 grams) to experienced parents Tinkerbell and Loki.

“Clutch mates,” means that Tinkerbell’s two chicks hatched from eggs that she laid a few days apart. The third African Penguin chick at the Zoo hatched on January 12 (weighing in at 53 grams) to first time parents Tyke and Tyra.

“Both pairs of parents are doing a great job taking care of their chicks,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “The addition of these chicks is a great win for the species and an exciting time for our community to learn more about these beautiful birds.”

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4_TLPZ - African penguins (2)Photo Credits: TLPZ

The Zoo, currently home to a colony of twelve African Penguins, participates in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (TLPZ) also participates in the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program which focuses on having animal experts identify threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and educate visitors on animal conservation. At the same time, SAFE will build capacity to increase direct conservation spending, as well as our members’ impact on saving species through work in the field, in our zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement. We have done it before. Some species exist only because of the efforts of aquariums and zoos and their contributing partners. The three chicks will be the first additions to the Zoo’s colony since June 2014.

According to keepers, it is very difficult to tell a penguin chick’s sex. A DNA blood test will be used to determine the sex of the chicks when they are old enough. The Zoo uses bands on the adult penguins’ flippers to differentiate: right flippers for males and left flippers for females. TLPZ plans to publicly reveal the sex of the chicks in the near future.

Native to the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of five true warm weather species. The species is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN due to food shortages from commercial fishing, oil spills, egg collection and fishing nets. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 40 years.

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5_TLPZ - African penguins (1)