The Magellanic Penguin chick, at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens, has a name. Meet Sharky!
When the little guy hatched June 3, his first-time parents, Troy and Victoria, were unable to care for him, so keepers stepped in to provide the life-saving help he needed.
Sharky is still being hand-reared by his keepers, and he has also been “adopted” by one of the Zoo’s female penguins, Lola. Keepers are hopeful that Lola will soon be able to take-over fulltime parental duties for Sharky.
(ZooBorns introduced readers to the chick on June 20: “Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo”)
The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.
Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).
They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.
Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.
The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.
They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).