A total of four Magellanic Penguin chicks hatched recently at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
Magellanic Penguin parents, “Yellow” and “Orange,” welcomed two chicks last week. These new chicks joined two chicks that hatched the week before to parents, “Pink” and “Red.”
Magellanic Penguins at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are not named but rather are known by the colors of the identification bands on their wings.
Recently, zookeepers and a veterinarian carefully lifted the four small gray balls of fluff out of their two burrows – and very briefly away from their parents – to weigh the little penguins and give them well-chick examinations. The verdict: All of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s newest residents are healthy and appear to be thriving!
Zoo veterinarians carefully examined each chick for overall body condition and energy and hydration levels to assess their health.
“The newest chicks were quite robust and active during their exams,” said the zoo’s Head Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Wolf. “They are endearingly plump and their parents are doing a great job caring for them,” said Wolf.
The newest hatchlings weighed-in at 4.5 ounces and 10 ounces.
“The two older chicks are continuing to thrive and are rapidly gaining weight,” said Wolf. They now weigh 14.9 and 17.7 ounces.
The two new families are on exhibit in the Penguin Point habitat at the zoo, but spotting the chicks will take patience. They’re usually safely hidden under one of the parents while they’re being kept warm during the day, coming out occasionally for feeding. The parents feed the chicks a slurry of regurgitated fish after the adults have eaten herring and capelin.
The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is a South American penguin, native to coastal Argentina, Chile, the Falkland Islands, and Brazil.
Parents share duties and incubate their eggs in shifts. The eggs generally hatch between 38 and 42 days after they’re laid.
The hatchings at Point Defiance are a result of a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Magellanic Penguins.
“Penguin breeding tends to be more successful as the size of the colony grows,” said Malia Somerville, zoo Curator of Marine Mammals and Birds. “So having a thriving and growing colony bodes well for the Magellanic Penguins at Point Defiance Zoo and for the larger zoo-based population.”
Four of the nine other penguins at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium were rescued after washing ashore in South America, nursed back to health at a rehabilitation facility and found a home in Tacoma. Four penguins were hatched there and one was hatched at Blank Park Zoo in Iowa.
The Magellanic Penguin is currently classified as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Penguins in the wild are threatened by a number of factors, including the proliferation of plastics in the ocean, spills of oil and other hazardous materials, and overfishing.