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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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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. 

See and read more after the fold.

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In the wild, Rockhopper Penguins live in the South Atlantic, Indian and Pacific oceans. They are listed as Vulnerable, with a declining population, on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List. They are threatened by loss of prey due to human fisheries, loss of suitable habitat and pollution by oil spills. Currently, 317 Rockhopper penguins reside at 17 Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions in North America.

Guests will be able to see the penguins by video at the Penguin Exhibit. They will go on exhibit once they have their waterproof feathers.