Rare African Penguin Chicks Hatch at California Aquarium


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. 



Chicks with biologists Crystal Crimbchin and Vikki McCloskeyPhoto 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.

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Two Penguins Are Better Than One at Tennessee Aquarium

Baby Gentoo 1 Weigh InWhat’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.

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Bug and Big T with Gentoo Chick 2
Loribeth Aldrich with two Gentoos 2014Photo 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.

See more photos below.

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Penguin Chick Hatches at Monterey Bay Aquarium

10293611_10152456560452482_4849060020726963791_oThe 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.


Fuzzy Penguin Chick is Kansas City Zoo's First

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.

More Penguins Than Ever Hatch at NaturZoo Rheine

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NaturZoo Rheine's Humboldt Penguin colony has been especially prolific this year: ten breeding pairs have nested and laid eggs, and so far, eight chicks have hatched! The German zoo has housed Humboldt Penguins for over forty years and has never had so many hatchlings before.

Most of the action is happening in the nests, where both parents help to raise the young, but with some luck, zoo visitors may catch a peek at the chicks.

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Photo credit: NaturZoo Rheine

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Baby Penguin Season Kicks Off at Chester Zoo

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The first Humboldt Penguin chicks of 2014 have hatched at Chester Zoo in England. With the first chick hatched and healthy, the only real headache for keepers was what to call their new charge – and the others due to hatch after him. Last year’s clutch were named after characters from the hit TV show Dr Who. This year they are named after past and present superstars of the football (or soccer) World Cup. 

Weighing just  3 ounces (87 g), baby chick Rooney (shown above; named after England forward Wayne) is one of the first Humboldt Penguins to hatch at the zoo this year. Rooney has already been joined by Gerrard (after current England captain Steven), Banks (after 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon) and Moore (after 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby)

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4 penguinPhoto credit: Chester Zoo / Steve Rawlins


Lead Penguin Keeper Karen Neech said, “Choosing names for the chicks is always a poser but with one eye on the World Cup we decided to kick off this year’s football campaign with some stars of our own. 

“Footballers have very strict diets and things are just the same for our new arrivals. But whereas footballers can look forward to a protein shake ours grow strong on a diet of regurgitated ‘fish smoothie’ provided by their parents.”

The new arrivals mean the zoo now has a colony of over 35 Humboldt Penguins.

Read more after the fold.

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The Penguins are Hatching at Oregon Zoo

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Three new chicks have joined the Oregon Zoo’s Humboldt Penguin colony! Visitors can look for the young penguins this summer, once the chicks fledge and begin to explore the rugged terrain of the zoo’s penguinarium, which simulates the endangered birds’ native habitat along the rocky coast of Chile and Peru.

For now, keepers say, the recent arrivals are keeping cozy in their nest boxes, growing strong on a diet of regurgitated 'fish smoothie' provided by their parents. The first Humboldt hatchling of the year, who arrived March 11 to parents Milo and Vivo, has already been eating with enough gusto to have earned the nickname Porker.

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3 penguinPhoto credit: Oregon Zoo / Michael Durham

“The chicks look like velvety gray plush toys,” said curator Michael Illig, who oversees the zoo’s birds and species recovery programs. “They weigh just a few ounces and can fit in the palm of your hand.”

By summer, the chicks will be nearly as tall as the adult Humboldts, but easy to tell apart by their plumage: They will be grayish-brown all over and won’t develop the distinctive black-and-white tuxedo markings for a couple more years.

Read more after the fold.

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Penguins Hatch at Columbus Zoo

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The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium in Ohio has welcomed three Humboldt Penguins to the zoo’s Shores region. The chicks hatched in March and are three of over 20 Humboldt Penguins to hatch at the zoo since 1996.  

Although animal care staff can tell the chicks apart by personality, they will place a colored wing band on the chicks to easily identify them as they start to explore their habitat. All three chicks are doing well and have passed their wellness check-up with flying colors.

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8 penguinPhoto credit: Colombus Zoo

The first to hatch weighed 85 grams, the second weighed 79 grams and the third chick, which hatched last, week weighed in at 56 grams. The first two chicks are males, but the third chick’s sex has yet to be determined.

See and read more after the fold.

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Rockhopper Penguins Hatch at Henry Doorly Aquarium

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Five Southern Rockhopper Penguin chicks have hatched at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium in Nebraska!

Hatched in mid-December, the chicks now weigh close to five pounds (2.3 kg), and have started to molt their baby feathers and grow in adult waterproof feathers. 

Typically adult birds will raise their own chicks, but these eggs were hand-raised due to increased activity levels in the exhibit.

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Penguin 8

Penguin 7


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Photo credits: Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium

See video of a newly-hatched chick:


See video of the babies:


The eggs were kept in an incubator for 36 days. Once an egg began to hatch, keepers put the egg in a hatcher until the chick was fully hatched and dry. The chicks were then transferred to a brooder with a warm temperature. The temperature of the brooder will slowly decrease as the chicks grow bigger. 

The chicks are fed five times a day and eat a fish and krill formula that is made fresh daily and packed with all the vitamins and minerals the growing chicks need. They will also eat small fish fillets until they progress to whole fish. Keepers follow strict hand-rearing guidelines, allowing the chicks to consume no more than ten percent of their body weight at each feeding. 

For the measured feedings, it is very important for the keepers to be able tell the chicks apart. Each chick has one foot marked with a non-toxic paint to allow keepers to identify them. Once old enough, the chicks will have wing bands just like the other adult penguins on display. 

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African Penguin Hatches into a Great Adventure!

Penguin hero

An African Penguin chick has hatched at Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey. (Forgive the title--we couldn't help it!) A healthy, active, 2.5-ounce (72 g) ball of fluff, whose gender is yet to be determined, was born to parents Minnie and Kamikaze on January 5. 

The day before, aquarium biologists had heard soft 'pipping' sounds from inside the egg as the chick readied itself to hatch by chipping away at its shell. They knew that a hatching was imminent. Sure enough, biologists arrived Sunday morning to see that the little chick had hatched overnight.

The chick is doing very well – strong, vocal and very mobile. It is pictured at one day old, so tiny that it would fit in the palm of your hand!

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3 penguinPhoto credit: Advanture Aquarium

This chick is Minnie and Kamikaze’s seventh since they became a breeding pair, and will be the fourth of theirs to call Adventure Aquarium home, along with siblings Myer, Jack and Jambo. Three of the pair’s other chicks were sent to other facilities across the country as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquaria’s (AZA) Species Survival Program (SSP) breeding recommendations. An SSP coordinates breeding of genetically unrelated animals between AZA accredited facilities. This helps to prevent inbreeding and sustain a healthy population in captivity.

This effort takes on an even greater importance when the species is endangered in the wild, as are African Penguins. The greatest threat to these birds is competition with humans: as we continue to overfish, African Penguins lose their food source. Having a healthy captive population allows us to study the biology of a species for better conservation. In some case, it can also give us the ability to give wild populations a boost by releasing captive-bred individuals. 

Today the chick will have its first veterinary checkup, and it will go through daily weigh-ins with aquarium biologists, who will ensure that the chick continues to thrive. 

This weekend, January 11-12, Adventure Aquarium is hosting a Celebrity Penguin Weekend. Pumpkin and Patch, 'grandchicks' of Minnie and Kamikaze, will make their debut. 

See more photos after the fold!

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