The Cincinnati Zoo is celebrating a baby bonanza – dozens of babies have been born at the zoo in the past few months. In fact, there are so many babies that the zoo is celebrating “Zoo Babies” month in May.
Photo Credit: Cassandre Crawford, Jeff McCurry, Cincinnati Zoo
All the little ones have kept their parents – and zoo keepers – busy. The three female African Lion cubs are particularly feisty, testing their “grrrl” power on a daily basis with their father John and mother Imani.
Other babies include three Bonobos, two Gorillas, a Bongo, a Serval, two Capybaras, a Rough Green Snake, Giant Spiny Leaf Insects, Thorny Devils, Little Penguin chicks and Kea chicks. “This is the largest and most varied group of babies we’ve had. We’re particularly excited about the successes we’ve had with the endangered African Painted Dogs and the hard-to-breed Kea,” said Thane Maynard, Cincinnati Zoo Executive Director.
See more photos of Cincinnati's Zoo's babies below.
The first Humboldt Penguin chicks of 2015 have emerged from their eggs at Chester Zoo.
Weighing only two ounces, baby chick Panay – named after an exotic island in the Philippines – was the first of eight to hatch at the zoo. The next seven hatchlings were named after other islands: Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Sumba, Java, and Tuma.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo
Since the chicks hatched, zookeepers have been carefully observing their nutrition, weight, and development in the nest. The chicks are weighed daily, and their parents receive extra fish so they can feed their new babies. It’s working – some of the chicks weigh seven times their hatch weight after only a few weeks.
Each pair of the South American species, which come from the coastal areas of Peru and Chile, lays two eggs and incubates them for 40 days. Both parents help rear the young until they are fully fledged, before making their tentative first splash in the pool with the rest of the colony. Humboldt Penguins are named after the chilly Humboldt current that parallels South America's west coast and carries abundant marine life.
Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, Humboldt Penguins are among the most at risk, being classified as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Their decline is due in part to extensive mining of guano beds. The guano beds, consisting of hundreds of years of accumulated bird droppings, make excellent fertilizer. But the Penguins need the guano beds as nesting grounds, so when the guano is removed, the Penguins have nowhere to nest. Overfishing of the Penguins’ prey species, climate change, and rising acidity levels in the ocean also contribute to their decline.
The Cincinnati Zoo is home to five species of penguins, and their colony of Blue Penguins recently increased their census with the hatching of their newest chicks!
Photo Credits: Cassandre Crawford/ Cincinnati Zoo
The Blue Penguin (also known as: Little Blue Penguin, Fairy Penguin, or Little Penguin) is the smallest species of penguin. It is native to the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. They grow to an average of about 13 inches (33 cm) in height and 17 inches (43 cm) in length. Their name alludes to their slate-blue plumage.
Blue Penguins are diurnal and spend the biggest part of their day swimming and foraging for food at sea. During breeding and chick rearing seasons, they leave their nests at sunrise, forage for food throughout the day and return to nest just after dusk. Blue Penguins rub tiny drops of oil, from a gland above their tail, onto every feather. This task of preening with oil helps keep their feathers waterproof while swimming.
Blue Penguins mature at different ages. A female will mature at around two-years, and a male will, however, reach maturity at about three-years-old. They remain faithful to their partner during breeding season and hatching. They will swap burrows at other times of the year, but they also exhibit site fidelity to their own nesting colony.
Nests are situated close to the sea in burrows excavated by the birds or other species. They will also nest in caves, rock crevices, under logs or in a variety of man-made structures (nest boxes, pipes, stacks of wood, buildings). They are the only species of penguin capable of producing more than one clutch of eggs per breeding season. The one or two, white or mottled brown, eggs are generally laid from July to mid-November. Incubation can take up to 36 days, and the chicks are brooded for 18-38 days. They fledge after 7-8 weeks.
The Blue Penguin is classified as “Least Concern” on the IUCN Red List. However, their populations are threatened by a variety of terrestrial creatures, such as: cats, dogs, rats, foxes, and large reptiles. Due to their diminutive size, some colonies have been reduced in size by as much as 98% in just a few years. A small colony near Warrnambool, Victoria, Australia was reduced from approximately 600 penguins in 2001 to less than 10 in 2005. Because of this threat, conservationists pioneered an experimental technique using Maremma Sheepdogs to protect the colony and fend of potential predators.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo, in Syracuse, New York, recently announced that three new Humboldt Penguin chicks had hatched in the last three weeks.
Photo Credits: Maria Simmons/Rosamond Gifford Zoo
The zoo’s 40th chick hatched on January 9 to ‘Mario’ and ‘Montaña’ and weighed 79 grams. The 41st chick hatched on January 17 to ‘Frederico’ and ‘Poquita’ and weighed 65 grams. The 42ndchick hatched on January 21 to ‘Frederico’ and ‘Poquita’ and weighed 61 grams.
Zoo staff were able to determine a gender for the 41st chick, and it’s a girl! Staff asked local County Executive, Joanie Mahoney, to help name the chick. She chose ‘Lucia’, which means “light.”
Ted Fox, zoo director, said, “The Rosamond Gifford Zoo continues to play an important role in conserving Humboldt Penguins. Penguins from our colony will travel to other zoos and aquariums to ensure efforts to continue populating the species.”
Humboldt Penguins live along the coast of Peru and Chile in the Humboldt Current. They are endangered, with an estimated 10,000 to 12,000 surviving in the wild.The three chicks will remain under the care of their parents until they are weaned. They will join the rest of the colony on exhibit at the zoo’s Penguin Coast, later this spring.
Just three-and-a-half weeks after tens of thousands of viewers watched them hatch and grow via streaming nest camera, the National Aviary’s African Penguin chicks made their public debut, on January 8th.
Photo Credits: National Aviary
On the morning of January 6, 2015, the penguin chicks were moved indoors to the National Aviary’s AvianCareCenter. A check-up by National Aviary Veterinarian, Dr. Pilar Fish, confirmed that both chicks are doing well.
Both chicks will be hand-reared in the AvianCareCenter, part of the National Aviary’s bird hospital, by experienced National Aviary staff. This is the third pair of penguin chicks in three years hatched at the National Aviary to penguin parents ‘Sidney’ and ‘Bette’.
National Aviary visitors can see the chicks up-close through a viewing window into the AvianCareCenter. Every day through early February, visitors can watch the chicks being fed and cared for by staff.
The sex of the chicks is not yet known. During the chicks’ first medical exam in December, while they were still living in the nest, feather samples were collected for each chick. The sex of immature African Penguins can only be determined with DNA testing. Feathers were sent to a lab for analysis; it will be another week before results are known.
When the sex is known, the National Aviary will launch an online auction so members of the public can bid on the opportunity to name one of the penguins.
The first chick hatched on December 15 and today is 24 days old weighing 727 grams. The second chick hatched December 18 and today weighs 548 grams. African Penguin chicks grow quickly. They will double, or even triple their weight week by week. By the time they reach full size, which takes about eight weeks, their weight will have increased by 2000%.
When these two chicks join the flock, the National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit will be home to nineteen African Penguins. African Penguins are a critically endangered species, with fewer than 20,000 remaining the wild. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), the National Aviary’s penguins are part of an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African Penguins for future generations.
A fluffy newborn chick has come along to steal the show at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo! The chick is the first King Penguin to be born at the zoo in 11 years. The father, 22-year-old Nautilus, and the mother, 11-year-old Rocio, keep a watchful eye on their little one, who hatched on October 11.
King Penguins are notoriously difficult to breed. First, compatible partners have to be brought together, and then both parents have to take turns incubating the egg, guarding the chick and foraging for food to feed the newborn.
For about 55 days, both parents took turns sitting on the egg. Once the chick emerged from the egg, the mother and father have alternated between guarding the newborn and foraging for food. The chick is fed regurgitated fish up to 20 times a day. Whenever the chick is hungry, it makes a unique begging call to attract the parents’ attention.
Photo credit: Tierpark Hellabrunn/Marc Müller
"Our little King Penguin is doing great! And it’s well looked after by its parents,” says Zoo Director Rasem Baban. “In about seven months, after the molt, we will be able to take a sample of its feathers and run some DNA tests to determine if it is male or female. But no matter what gender it is, the birth of a King Penguin chick after 11 years is a great success."
Biologists from the California Academy of Sciences excitedly announced that two African Penguin chicks have recently hatched, as part of the aquarium’s Species Survival Plan program.
Photo Credits: California Academy of Sciences
Hatched just days apart on November 1 and November 4, the two chicks, whose sexes will be announced in the coming days, are currently nesting with their parents behind-the-scenes and will soon go through what biologists refer to as “fish school.” There, they will learn to become proficient swimmers and grow comfortable eating fish hand-fed from a biologist to prepare them for twice-daily public feedings once they join the colony on exhibit.
“We’re thrilled to welcome these two new chicks into our African Penguin colony and are even more delighted about our continued success in maintaining a healthy, genetically diverse population among zoos and aquariums,” says Bart Shepherd, Director of the Academy’s Steinhart Aquarium. “By engaging the public about why sustaining these and other threatened species is so critical, we hope to inspire people around the world to join us by supporting conservation efforts locally and internationally.”
African Penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. The Academy’s African Penguins are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP), aimed at maintaining genetic diversity of captive populations through controlled breeding and collaborative exchange of offspring among partner zoos and aquariums. The Academy has a long and successful history of breeding African Penguins as part of the SSP for this species. In January 2013, the Academy hatched its first chick, since moving into its new Golden Gate Park facility in 2008.
What’s better than a new baby Penguin at the Tennessee Aquarium? Two new baby Penguins! Two Gentoo Penguin chicks - born to two separate Penguin pairs – are just over a month old and already showing their plucky Penguin personalities.
Photo Credit: Tennessee Aquarium
The oldest of the two chicks “is already testing boundaries,” says Aquarium aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. The little Penguin is already investigating everything with its beak and continually knocking over mom and dad’s food bowl. The chick already makes a hissing sound, similar to the warning hiss of a goose, which is typically heard in adult Penguins.
The second chick seems happiest in the nest, snuggled up behind mom and dad. However, during checkups and weigh-ins, this cuddly-looking chick shows its feisty side.
With three Penguin chicks and the possibility of more on the way, Curator of Forests Dave Collins explains that the foundation of the Aquarium’s Penguin breeding program was laid in 2007. “A strong husbandry program is key in making sure every bird’s needs are met,” said Collins. “Proper diet, a strict cleaning schedule and outstanding veterinary support are very important – especially during nesting season. These factors contribute to the best conditions possible for the colony, which are needed to encourage bonding, strong mating pairs and healthy chicks.”
The chicks are in temporary “playpens” for a few weeks, but can still be seen in the exhibit. “It won’t be safe for them to get in the water until they have grown their swim feathers,” explains Aldrich.
Gentoo Penguins are native to the coastlines of Antarctica and islands in the southern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is proud to announce the recent hatching of an African Black-footed Penguin chick. The chick is now being cared for by its parents, Karoo and Messina, on exhibit.
The young chick, whose gender is unknown, hatched on exhibit the morning of June 4.
Photo Credit: Monterey Bay Aquarium
The chick weighed 6.9 ounces (195 grams), more than three times the 2.1 ounces (60 grams) it weighed after hatching – indicating that it’s eating well.
“The parents are doing a great job caring for the chick,” said Aimee Greenebaum, associate curator of aviculture. “We enjoy seeing them be such attentive parents.”
But Greenebaum cautions that despite excellent parental and veterinary care, Black-footed Penguin chicks have a high rate of mortality.
All of the birds are part of a Species Survival Plan for threatened African Black-footed Penguins. The plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, identified Penguins Karoo and Messina as genetically important to the captive population of this species in the United States, and the aquarium received permission to allow the pair to breed.
This is the fifth chick hatched in the Penguin colony at the aquarium. Of three birds that hatched in January 2011, the two males, Pebble and Tola, survived and are both doing well at Dallas World Aquarium. Maq hatched in August 2013 and is currently on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The chick will remain with Karoo and Messina for about three weeks or until it starts leaving its nest. At that time, the family will be moved behind the scenes for the chick’s safety; it can’t be left on exhibit because it could accidentally drown or be injured by adult Penguins in the exhibit. It will eventually receive a name, and the chick (and parents) will rejoin the colony on exhibit about three months later. After one to two years, the chick may stay at Monterey Bay Aquarium or move to another accredited zoo or aquarium.
The Kansas City Zoo welcomed its first-ever Humbodlt Penguin chick on May 25. Covered with soft gray down feathers, the chick is being closely watched and fed by both Humboldt Penguin parents.
Photo Credit: Kansas City Zoo
The zoo’s staff notes that the location of the nest – right up against the glass in the Penguin exhibit – makes the hatchling very easy to observe. It will be several weeks before the chick is able to explore the exhibit on its own.
Humboldt Penguins are native to the Pacific coasts of Peru and Chile in South America. The birds build their nests along the rocky coastline and venture out to sea to catch fish in the chilly Humboldt current for which they are named.
These Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Many Penguins are displaced when guano - the accumulated droppings of millions of birds over hundreds of years – is mined as a fertilizer. Climate change also affects these Penguins in a negative way. When ocean temperatures rise, the fish on which the Penguins feed move to colder currents. Sometimes the fish move so far off shore that the Penguins become exhausted trying to locate food.