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Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo

PenguinChick1-DeeAnna Murphy

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is happy to announce that a Magellanic Penguin chick hatched on June 3. The chick marks the second successful hatching at the Zoo since the opening of Tuxedo Coast in 2010. A male named CJ was hatched August of last year and quickly waddled his way into guests’ hearts.

The parents of the new chick are Troy and Victoria who came to JZG in 2010 from the San Francisco Zoo. Although they’ve been a bonded pair for 5 years, this is their first successful hatchling.

PenguinChick2-DeeAnna Murphy

PenguinChick3-DeeAnna MurphyPhoto Credit: DeeAnna Murphy/Pink Pelican Photography

The chick pipped (cracked the shell) on its own, but when there was no progression of the hatching process, keepers decided to intervene and help the little one along. Keepers are hand-rearing the extremely active two-week-old and have described the youngster as a “little jumping bean.”

The chick will be hand-reared by keepers for the next few months and then will be slowly and safely introduced to the rest of the colony of 16 penguins. JZG has past experience in raising a young penguin, as CJ required hand-rearing as well.

The young chick’s sex is not known at this time but will be determined soon through DNA testing. The little one is expected to make its public debut in the next few months.

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).

They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.

Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.

The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) supports SANCCOB, a South African conservation organization whose primary objective is the rescue, rehabilitation and release of seabirds, especially African Penguins. Since 2009, the Zoo has donated funds from penguin-specific events like World Penguin Day and a portion of each admission ticket goes directly to conservation in the wild.