A bundle of fluffy gray feathers arrived at the Fort Wayne Children's Zoo on June 26: A tiny Black-footed Penguin hatched to mother Right Pink and father Left Pink. (The penguins are identified by colored bands on each wing.)
Though the Pinks have raised several chicks, this Penguin needed a little help entering the world. A few days before hatching, the chick used its pointy temporary "egg tooth" (located on the top of its beak) to "pip" through both the internal egg membrane and the eggshell. Normally, the chick would begin coming out of its shell at this point, but in this case, nothing happened. "The veterinary staff ultimately helped the chick come out of the egg," says zoo keeper Nikki Finch. "Mom and dad took the chick back right away and starting caring for it."
The Pinks are apparently doing a great job caring for their chick - its weight increased nearly sixfold, from 52 grams to 298 grams, in just 12 days!
Zoo guests won't be able to see the Penguin chick, whose gender is not yet known, for several months. "Right now, the chick is with the Pinks in the Penguins' night house," says Finch. The chick will stay with its parents, dining on regurgitated fish, until it is 21 days old or weighs 500 grams. "After that, we'll take over feeding the chick and train it to eat fish form our hand," says Finch. Once the chick loses its fuzzy gray down and sports a nice set of waterproof feathers, it will return to the exhibit and meet the rest of the flock.
Black-footed Penguins are native to the coast of South Africa, where they are threatened by human activity. At one time, nearly 4 million Balck-footed Penguins inhabited South Africa's coastal waters; today fewer than 55,000 remain. Black-footed Penguins are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.
Photo Credit: Fort Wayne Children's Zoo