Penguin

Penguins Are a Perfect Present for Moody Gardens

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Just in time for the holidays, four Gentoo Penguin chicks – the first of the 2013 breeding season – have hatched at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas. 

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Photo Credit:  Moody Gardens

The down-covered chicks, who weighed only a few ounces each at hatching, are growing quickly and will attain their adult size and weight in about eight weeks. 

In the wild, Gentoo Penguins breed on many sub-Antarctic islands, where they build large circular nests from stones.  

These chicks, along with six other Gentoo Penguins, will move to Hull, England in February for a new Penguin exhibit at The Deep.  

"In the spirit of international cooperation, we're pleased to be able to send the Penguins to The Deep," said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at Moody Gardens, who traveled to England to oversee the Penguin transfers.  "They have a brand new exhibit that has passed very stringent accreditation standards."  

This cooperative management is typical of zoos that are accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).  AZA zoos, along with their European counterparts, share a goal of maintaining genetically healthy animal populations.


Rockhopper Penguin Chick Hatches at Shedd Aquarium

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As if to say, "Hello world!" the newest Rockhopper Penguin hatchling waved its tiny wings for the camera at Chicago's Shedd Aquarium. Hatched just about a month ago, the chick is thriving and growing quickly, as penguins tend to do, before guests' eyes each day: Gaining weight, eating, and building relationships with its feathery neighbors on exhibit in the Polar Play Zone. The open nesting location there allows guests the rare opportunity to watch and learn about the chick as it develops and grows.

Visitors also have the unique chance to see the mother and father care for the hatchling, sharing parenting responsibilities in equal shifts. The experienced parental Penguin pair is feeding the bird well, according to Ken Ramirez, Executive Vice President of animal care and training for Shedd, but there are more key milestones ahead. The chick will learn to eat on its own before acquiring waterproof plumage and diving into its swimming skills for the first time.

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Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez

Keepers observe and weigh the bird daily. Born at 75 grams, the chick gains approximately 40 grams per day and is now at a healthy weight of 1,019 grams. The gender of the chick has yet to be determined. It is difficult to identify gender in Penguins without genetic testing, as there is no observable difference in male and female anatomy. Watch as the Penguin chick interacts with its trainer below:


Trio of Endangered Penguins at the Audubon Aquarium

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Three endangered African Blackfooted Penguins were born at the Audubon Aquarium in March. The chicks were born to parents Voodoo and Tag, Snake and Quatloo, and Endymion and Kenickie. They are growing quickly and have already joined the penguin colony exhibit.

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The chicks were initially fed a special hand-blended formula of fish, krill, half-and-half, an electrolyte solution, proteins and vitamins. This provided them with the nutrients they needed to grow healthy during their first few weeks. 

Penguin Number Three resting on Darwins finger

The chicks are a testament to the success of the Audubon Penguin Breeding Program. “With their numbers decreasing by as much as 90% in the past century, the hatching of multiple African penguin chicks is especially significant and makes me incredibly proud of the program’s accomplishments,” says Audubon Senior Aviculturist Darwin Long. Audubon Aquarium works to build genetically-diverse captive populations to ensure the survival of the species. They have raised 46 chicks since the Aquarium opened in 1990.

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Photo Credit Audubon Aquarium

See more photos below the fold.

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Chester Zoo's Penguin Chicks Named After TV Icons

Chester Zoo keeper Karen Neech checks on penguin chicks Davros and Dalek

A clutch of four Humboldt Penguin chicks hatched at the United Kingdom’s Chester Zoo have been named after characters from the British science fiction TV show Doctor Who, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. 

The first of the chicks, which hatched on April 17, was named Doctor.  The next three chicks are named Tardis, Davros and Dalek.

Chester Zoo keeper Karen Neech checks on penguin chicks Davros and Dalek (2)

Doctor a newly hatched penguin chick at Chester Zoo is weighed to check on its development

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Photo Credit: Chester Zoo

Zoo keepers are providing intense daily care to the four chicks, including daily weigh-ins to make sure the chicks are getting enough food from their parents.  Keeper Karen Neech said, “With extra mouths to feed a lot more food is required, so it’s a busy time for both us and the adult Penguins.  We provide the parents with fish and they then turn it into a high-protein soup, which they then regurgitate to feed to the chicks.” 

Humboldt Penguins are native to the coastal areas of Peru and Chile and are named for the chilly Humboldt ocean current in which they swim. They are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. 

Read and see more below the fold.

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Penguin Chick is a First for Minnesota Zoo

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An endangered African Penguin chick hatched at the Minnesota Zoo on March 2 – the first in the zoo’s history.  The chick, whose gender is not yet known, is being raised behind-the-scenes by Penguin foster parents.  The biological parents were not incubating the egg consistently so the egg was placed with this experienced pair.  

The photos below showcase the chick’s rapid growth. From top to bottom, the chick is one day, three days, five days, 12 days, and 16 days old.  The chick has grown from 2.4 ounces to over 1 pound, 6 ounces in that time span. The chick will eventually become an ambassador for its species in the Minnesota Zoo’s education programs.

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Photo Credits:  MIinnesota Zoo

 

African Penguins live and nest on the southwest coast of Africa, where they consume nearly 15% of their body weight in fish such as anchovies, sardines, and herring each day.  Large-scale commercial fisheries, oil spills, and habitat destruction have killed 80% of the African Penguin population in the last 50 years. 

Catastrophic food shortages, thought to be caused by climate change which has shifted fish populations further away from the coast, have accelerated the decline in the global population by forcing adults to abandon their nests and chicks.


Two African Penguins Hatch at Mystic Aquarium

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Connecticut’s Mystic Aquarium announced the recent hatching of two African Penguin chicks.  The chicks hatched on February 1 and February 10 and are growing quickly.  The younger chick weighs 281 grams, and the older chick weighs 696 grams, demonstrating the exponential growth seen in the first few weeks of a Penguin chick’s life.

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Photo Credits: Mystic Aquarium

During the first 40 days of life, Penguin chicks cannot maintain their body heat, so they stay warm by tucking underneath their parents.  When the very vocal chicks announce that they’re hungry, mom and dad oblige by offering food.  Once the chicks are weaned at about 50 days old, keepers will begin training the chicks to accept food from their hands.  You can watch all the action on the aquarium’s African Penguin webcam.  

The chicks will fledge at 75 to 100 days of age.  At that time, their fluffy down will be replaced with the brown and white feathers of juvenile Penguins, and they’ll be introduced to the 26 adult Penguins in the flock.  The chicks’ genders will be determined using a DNA test when they’re about six months old.   

African Penguins are an endangered species, and their breeding is managed by the Species Survival Plan, a cooperative breeding program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

See more photos below the fold.

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A Great Season for Penguins at SeaWorld San Antonio

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A Gentoo Penguin chick.

Texas' SeaWorld San Antonio celebrated another record-breaking penguin breeding season, with a total of 31 Gentoo, Chinstrap and Rockhopper Penguin chicks hatching in December and January.

The breeding season at SeaWorld San Antonio begins each year in September, as aviculturists haul in over 7 tons of rocks by the bucket load to form three distinct rookeries, or penguin nesting areas. Highly monogamous, Gentoo, Chinstrap and Rockhopper Penguins typically return to the exact same nesting location, with the same mate, year after year. 

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From left to right: Rockhopper, Chinstrap and Gentoo Penguin chicks.
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A Chinstrap Penguin parent feed a chick. Photo Credits: Seaworld San Antonio

Most of the chicks hatched were incubated by their parents, although foster parents and incubators were utilized when necessary. Because penguins lay their eggs in rocky nests, the shells of the eggs are especially thick and protective. It can take chicks several days to hatch, so aviculturalists keep an eye on the little ones as they peck their way out of those tough eggs. 

Right after hatching, the exhausted chicks rest and gain warmth from their parents. After about twenty-four hours, the chicks gain an appetite and both parents take turns regurgitating fish for their young. 

The chicks spend their first few weeks of life being kept warm and safe by both parents, who share in the duties of brooding and feeding their youngsters.  Aviculturists carefully monitor all penguin families, and take frequent weights of chicks to ensure healthy growth.

Read more about penguins after the fold!

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African Black-Footed Penguin Growing Up Quickly at the Adventure Aquarium

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Adventure Aquarium's penguin colony grew by one last month when they welcomed an African Black-Footed Penguin chick on January 11th. The little critter, whose gender is still unknown, was about the size of a golf ball and weighted just sixty grams when it first hatched. That did not last long however, as the little one is growing faster than keepers can keep track. By January 25th, just two weeks after pecking its way out of its egg, the chick had already exploded to a weight of over one and a quarter pounds and now stands over six inches tall.

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The baby is the first for parents Kali and Tyson who were paired for breeding by the Association of Zoo and Aquarium's (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). They have a tall order caring for their rapidly growing first-born who is dependent on them for warmth until it can regulate its own temperature at around one month old. Until then, Kali and Tyson will take turns incubating the baby and brining back food for their growing child.

The African Black-Footed Penguin, the only penguin species found in Africa, was once quite abundant with an estimated four million in existence at the beginning of the 20th century. That number dropped dramatically to 200,000 by the year 2000 and has continued to fall to an estimated 55,000 living today. This rapid decline has led to a classification of endangered on the IUCN's Red List. It is estimated that if this trend continues the species will be extinct in the next fifteen years. With such a imperiled future, every birth can be considered a victory.

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Penguin Baby Boom at Seneca Park Zoo

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The African Black-footed Penguin flock at the Seneca Park Zoo grew by five chicks in the past month. October through April is the peak nesting season and these tiny additions need lots of help from their caretakers.  The Penguins pictured here range from one day to 18 days old.

On top of the normal two feedings a day, parents who are rearing chicks are offered extra fish daily. Zoo keepers diligently record fish intake, making sure each parent has enough to sustain themselves as well as their offspring. Every other day (from hatch to day 80 – when chicks are weaned from their parents) the Penguin chicks are weighed. If at any time a chick falls below an acceptable weight, night feedings are incorporated into the program.

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Photo Credit: Photo 1, Kelli O’Brien, Photo 2,3,4: Kara Masaschi

On the days chicks are weighed, keepers also perform a mini physical exam: eyes should be bright and free of discharge, the chick should be vocal and alert, and after a couple of weeks they should be relatively mobile. Just as they would in the wild, parents do all the work, from the moment the egg is laid until the chick is weaned. That said, keepers are the first line of defense if something doesn’t seem quite right within these first, fragile few weeks of life.

In 2010, the African Black-footed Penguin was listed as an endangered species. In the early 1900s, the wild population was estimated at more than 1.5 million individuals. Today about 20,000 birds remain, with a 60% loss of population within the past 30 years. This is largely due to food base declines, competition with the fishing industry and Cape fur seals, as well as a major shift in prey due to changes in their ecosystem. Habitat destruction and oil spills have also contributed greatly to the decline in the African Black-footed Penguin population.

In an effort aimed to help their species, the Penguins at Seneca Park Zoo are carefully managed by a Species Survival Program (SSP). This program is a collaborative effort among AZA accredited zoos and aquariums in North America to breed the most genetically diverse population of this Penguin species.

 


Now There's Three Little Penguin Chicks at Moody Gardens!

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Photo Credit: Moody Gardens

Another little Penguin chick has hatched at Moody Gardens, making him the third baby this season for parents Ren and Garfield. You may have read about the first two, who were born on Thanksgiving Day, a few weeks ago on Zooborns. 

This new baby Gentoo Penguin came into the family earlier this week, and currently weighs 221 grams. And he's growing fast. Here you can watch him along with sibling Quinn and Raye, a must-see video. 

Adult Gentoo Penguins have distinctive white patches above the eye area and white speckling in the adjacent black plumage around their heads. They also have yellow feet, making them unique in the Moody Gardens collection. These new additions made it the eighth straight year that Moody Gardens has successfully bred a Gentoo Penguin.