Penguin

Eggcellent News: Four Penguins Hatch at Chester Zoo

Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (8)
Four fuzzy Penguin chicks named Wotsit, Quaver, Frazzle, and Cheeto have become the first of their kind to hatch at the Chester Zoo this year.

The tiny Humboldt Penguin chicks, which hatched between March 27 and April 5 to four different sets of parents, were named after their keepers’ favorite snacks.

Quaver the Humboldt penguin chick is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (3)
Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (4)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Staff at the zoo use a different naming theme each year to help them to keep track of the new chicks, with popular potato snacks getting the nod this year. Previous topics have included British Olympic athletes and chocolate bars.  

Both Penguin parents help rear their young, including regurgitating fish for the chicks to eat. To keep the adults and babies well-nourished, the adults get extra servings of fish each day.  Keepers weigh the little chicks daily to make sure they are gaining weight.

So far, the chicks are thriving – keepers expect them to triple in size and weight in the first month. 

Humboldt Penguins live on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, they are now among the most at risk.  Humboldt Penguins are threatened by climate change, rising acidity levels in the ocean and over-fishing – all of which force them to search further from their nests for fish.

See more photos of the chicks below.

Continue reading "Eggcellent News: Four Penguins Hatch at Chester Zoo" »


Penguin Chick Gets Hatching Help

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 6 Sometimes baby animals need a little help, and that’s exactly what an about-to-hatch African Penguin received at Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw on December 28.

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 2
Pingwin przyl_dkowy 4
Pingwin przyl_dkowy 5Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

The Penguin chick, named Janush by keepers, was positioned abnormally inside his egg.  With his head underneath his wing, Janush was unable to turn and push his way out of the egg.  To assist the little chick, keepers removed the egg from the nest and gently extricated Janush from the shell.

Once they knew the tiny chick was stable, keepers tried to place Janush back in the nest with his parents.  Unfortunately, mom and dad were tending another chick that had hatched earlier in the day.  Penguin parents can be quite aggressive when defending their chicks, and keepers were unable to place Janush back in the nest. 

So, keepers took over as Janush’s parents during the first critical days of his life.  Because the chick was still absorbing nutrients from his yolk sac, there was no need to feed him right away, but controlling the temperature was important.  Janush moved to a well-ventilated incubator where he could stay warm.

The next day, keepers began feeding Janush a “milk shake” made from chopped fish and vitamins via a syringe.  Fortunately Janush has a good appetite and doubled his weight in the first week.  He feeds four times a day, and at night he snuggles beside a plush toy in his incubator.  In the morning Janush greets his keepers with loud squeaks to let them know he’s hungry.

In the wild, African Penguins are native to South Africa’s coast and nearby islands.  Because people have harvested so many fish from these waters, there is little left to sustain the Penguin population and the species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Oil spills have affected the population, and guano mining disturbs nesting sites.  Breeding programs in zoos around the world are an important part of efforts to save African Penguins.


Minnesota’s Penguin Chicks Are Put on the Scale

1_12496416_10153807987898788_4234800216317590104_o

Three African Penguin chicks have hatched, so far this season, at the Minnesota Zoo.

When the eggs first hatch, keepers at the Minnesota Zoo weigh the chicks to ensure the parents are feeding them properly. The three chicks that hatched in December are steadily gaining weight—a testimony to the good parenting they are receiving!

2_12418782_10153807999838788_6328243288573818512_o

3_12486005_10153808000408788_6038683865940522456_o

4_12496079_10153807986428788_1417004124455515403_oPhoto Credits: Minnesota Zoo

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is a species confined to southern African waters. It is widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray.

Like all extant penguins it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh, on average, 4.9 to 7.7 lbs (2.2 to 3.5 kg) and are 24 to 28 inches (60 to 70 cm) tall. It has distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upper parts are black and sharply delineated from the white under parts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. The pink gland above the eyes helps the penguins to cope with changing temperatures. The African Penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds primarily on fish and squid.

They are monogamous and breed in colonies, returning to the same site each year. The African Penguin has an extended breeding season, with nesting usually peaking from March to May, in South Africa, and November and December in Namibia. A clutch of two eggs is laid either in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes in the sand under boulders or brush. Both parents undertake incubation equally for about 40 days. At least one parent guards the chicks until about 30 days. After that, the chick joins the crèche with other chicks, and both parents head out to sea to forage. Chicks fledge at 60 to 130 days and go to sea, on their own.

Once extremely numerous, the African Penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population declines are, according to the IUCN, largely attributed to: food shortages (resulting from large catches of fish by commercial purse-seine fisheries) and environmental fluctuations.


‘Everybody Into the Pool!’ at the Maryland Zoo

1_Penguin Chicks swim practice

The African Penguin chick siblings, at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, are shedding their fluffy down feathers and growing their grey and white juvenile plumage.

Juvenile feathers are water resistant, so now there’s lots of swim practice for the brother and sister.

2_Female Chick_hatched Nov 9

3_Male Chick_hatched Nov 5

4_Penguin Chicks swim practicesPhoto Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore happily announced the arrival of the two African penguin chicks back in November, and ZooBorns shared news of the birth, as well. They were the first chicks to hatch during the 2015-2016 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks’ parents are Mega and Rossi. The male hatched on November 5 and the female on November 9.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for over 40 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1996.  

The Zoo has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing in Penguin Coast, along with six special penguins that are used as “Animal Ambassadors” and live in the Penguin Encounters building at the exhibit.

“Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

Penguin chicks hatch approximately 38 to 42 days after the egg is laid. Zookeepers, at the Maryland Zoo, monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents.

“With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, the two chicks stayed with their parents for about three weeks and were fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zookeepers and veterinarians kept a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents were properly caring for each chick.

At three-weeks-old, the keepers began hand rearing the chicks to start to teach them that keepers are a source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction. “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

The siblings are now starting to lose their downy feathers, and the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile penguins from the adults now covers them. They are learning how to swim and will now be slowly introduced to the rest of the penguin colony.

You can follow their growth and development on the Zoo’s website (www.marylandzoo.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/marylandzoo).


Chick It Out: Penguins Hatch At Maryland Zoo

12240982_10150584014384987_2078138226590917005_o

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced the arrival of the first two chicks of the 2015-2016 African Penguin breeding season.

12240882_10150584014539987_898115905738873523_o
12239281_10150584014964987_6213476884560133968_oPhoto Credit:  Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The chicks hatched on November 5 and November 9 to experienced parents Mega and Rossi. “Breeding season started in September with many of our penguins developing and defending their respective nests,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We are very excited to see these first two hatch and thrive under these proven Penguin parents.” The chicks, each weighing less than ¾ pound, are nesting comfortably with their parents.

Penguin chicks hatch 38 to 42 days after the eggs are laid. Zoo keepers monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents. “With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks and are fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zoo keepers and veterinarians keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.  When a chick is three weeks old, the keepers begin hand rearing the chick to start to teach it that keepers are their source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction.  “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

When the chicks are between six and eight weeks old, they lose their downy feathers and become covered in the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile Penguins from the adults. At this time, they begin to learn how to swim and will then be slowly introduced to the rest of the Penguin colony.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 40 years and  has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing at the zoo. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Kottyan. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

African Penguins are native to the coast of southern Africa.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  The wild population has decreased by 90% in the last 100 years.  At one time, these birds’ eggs were over-collected and their nest sites were disturbed due to mining for guano (accumulated seabird droppings).  Today, oil spills and over fishing are the main threats.


Penguin Chick's Name May Stick Like Glue

22760871426_d7b3e67f81_k
A Black-footed Penguin chick hatched at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas was named for the glue used to repair its shell, which cracked during incubation.

22786887265_42cef5839c_k
22164124944_a371f7d7bf_k
Photo Credit:  Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
 

Elmer, as keepers are temporarily calling the chick, hatched on August 31 and was reared by zoo keepers behind the scenes – a routine practice that allows the Penguins to become accustomed to daily hand feedings. 

Elmer’s name may not stick, though, because keepers don’t know yet if the chick is male or female.  They’ll determine its gender in a few months. 

Though less than months old, Elmer has grown rapidly, as all Penguins do.  Elmer’s downy feathers will soon begin to fall out in a process called molting, and they’ll be replaced by the sleek gray feathers of a juvenile Black-footed Penguin.  Until those feathers come in and Elmer is able to swim, the young Penguin is segregated from the rest of the flock and most importantly, the exhibit pool. For now, Elmer can see the Penguin flock through a Plexiglas partition.

To maximize genetic diversity among zoo-dwelling birds, Black-footed Penguins are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.  Elmer is the second chick for parents Millicent and Puddles.  

Native to southern Africa, Black-footed Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Populations have decreased dramatically in the last decades as Penguins' prey has been reduced by overfishing, and oil spills have killed thousands of birds.

See more photos of Elmer below.

Continue reading "Penguin Chick's Name May Stick Like Glue" »


Gentoo Penguin Chicks Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

1_Baby Penguins at the TN Aquarium 2015

Three baby Gentoo Penguins are warming the hearts of Tennessee Aquarium guests this summer. Like the Macaroni Penguin, which was the first to hatch at the Aquarium in 2015, this trio has made remarkable progress since they first arrived at the end of June.

Two of the chicks are actually siblings, but are being raised by different penguin mothers. “When Bug and Big T’s first egg hatched, they were having a tough time keeping both the second egg and the chick underneath them,” said senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee. “Biscuit and Blue did not have a viable egg this year, so we were able to move the second egg into their nest. It hatched a couple of days later and they have done a beautiful job caring for their adopted chick.”

2_Baby Gentoo Penguins at the TN Aquarium 2015

3_IMG_6074

4_IMG_5700Photo Credits: Tennessee Aquarium

This is the first time a baby penguin has been raised at the Aquarium by surrogate parents. In the past, aviculturists have supplemented feedings for any chicks that were not receiving enough nourishment from their parents. “We always prefer to let the parents raise their chicks, but we’ll intervene whenever necessary,” said Lee. “Since Biscuit and Blue have been diligent parents in the past, we believed they would do a great job caring for Bug and Big T’s chick and they have.”

In addition to their rapid growth, the three newest Gentoos are now showing their individuality. The experts caring for them say these penguins have personalities that range from passive to positively pecky. “The chick in Biscuit and Blue’s nest acts pretty mellow, preferring to hide its head under mom or dad,” said Lee. “Bug and Big T’s other chick is pretty perky and active, but nothing like Nipper’s chick. He acts feisty just like his father and loves to bite and squawk a lot.”

These traits will be interesting for Aquarium guests to watch over time. Lee and the other experts spend quite a bit of time pointing out the chicks and talking about their lives during penguin programs, which take place at 10:30am and 1:30pm each day.

The gender of the penguin chicks will be determined later this fall when every bird in the colony undergoes a thorough physical examination. A blood sample will be collected from the juvenile birds that will be sent to a lab for DNA testing to determine whether the new additions are male or female. A naming contest on the Aquarium’s Facebook page will begin after the genders are announced.

Continue reading "Gentoo Penguin Chicks Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium " »


Humboldt Penguin Chicks Stick Together at Paradise Park

Penguin Chicks at Paradise Park Hayle Cornwall

Staff at Paradise Park, in Hayle, Cornwall, UK, are delighted to have baby Humboldt Penguin chicks.

Curator David Woolcock said, “These two wonderful little characters are proving very popular with visitors. They are now ten weeks old and have been given the Peruvian names Miski and Aurora.”

Penguin Chicks at Paradise Park Hayle Cornwall 2

Penguin Chick and Keeper at Paradise Park HAyle Cornwall

Young Penguin chicks at Paradise Park CornwallPhoto Credits: Paradise Park

David continued, “They eat around 200g of fresh fish a day and are being hand-reared, as the eggs were laid outside the nesting caves and not protected from weather or disturbance.”

“Another younger chick, called Poppy, was not putting on enough weight when she was with her parents, so the decision was taken to hand-rear her as well. One other chick is being successfully reared by its parents in the nest.”

When chicks are in the nest they have fluffy grey down feathers. It takes about three months for them to leave their nests, and by this time they have developed the waterproof plumage they need for swimming. Juveniles are grey and white, only developing the distinctive black and white penguin plumage at a year old. The pattern of dark speckles, on their lower chest, is unique to each individual penguin.

Miski and Aurora are now being introduced to the Humboldt Penguin group at Paradise Park, and they are making regular appearances at the twice daily feeding times.

The Humboldt Penguin is native to South America and breeds in coastal Chile and Peru. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin, and the Galapagos Penguin. Its name is derived from the cold water current it swims in, which is named after explorer Alexander von Humboldt.

Humboldt Penguins are medium sized, growing to 22 to 28 inches (56 to 70 cm) long and a weight of 8 to 13 lbs (3.6 to 5.9 kg).

They are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened and Endangered Species. Their declining population is due to several factors: over-fishing, climate change, and ocean acidification. The Humboldt Penguin population is also losing numbers due to habitat destruction.

Young Penguin chick at Paradise Park Cornwall


Look Who's Hatching: Endangered African Penguin Chick

Spot-the-difference

 

Photo credit: Dave Parkinson

Home to the only breeding colony of African Penguins in the state of Florida, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo has welcomed chick number 9 to its rookery of 15 endangered Penguins.

In addition to helping to raise the number of penguins in the managed population in North America, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo also helps to support the wild penguin population by partnering with organizations in South Africa dedicated to protecting coastal penguin habitats.

Can you find 5 differences between the two photos above? Visit us on Facebook and list them all in the comments!


Rockin’ New Penguin Chick at Shedd Aquarium

1_Rockhopper Penguin Chick 5

Shedd Aquarium welcomed a Rockhopper Penguin Chick on June 9, 2015. The chick hatched to parents Edward and Annie, following penguin-breeding season in March. The yet-to-be-named penguin weighed 57 grams at birth and came in at 200 grams at a recent weigh-in; full growth is expected after about two to three months. Until the aquarium decides on a name, the tiny bird is being referred to as “Chick #23”. 

2_Rockhopper Penguin Chick 1

3_Rockhopper Penguin Chick 2

4_Rockhopper Penguin Chick 3Photo Credit: Brenna Hernandez /Shedd Aquarium ; Video Credit: Sam Cejtin /Shedd Aquarium

Chick #23 has been attempting to preen its soft, down-like plumage, which is one milestone Shedd’s animal care team looks for to assess the growth of the bird. While there are no observable sex differences in Rockhopper Penguins, a genetic test after one year of age will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl.

Guests can try to spot Chick #23 in Shedd’s Polar Play Zone, where it’s currently in its nest with its parents. It will be another month or so before the chick begins to wander on its own.

Shedd Aquarium houses two types of penguins in the Polar Play Zone exhibit: Rockhoppers (Eudyptes chrysocome) and Magellanics (Spheniscus magellanicus). The Rockhopper is the smaller, yet more eccentric penguin of the two breeds.

Rockhopper Penguins are listed as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Since 1991, Shedd has been part of a successful penguin breeding program and has contributed to a variety of global rescue efforts. Chick #23 is one of more than 30 Rockhopper Penguins currently at Shedd.

Continue reading "Rockin’ New Penguin Chick at Shedd Aquarium" »