Shedd Aquarium welcomed a new Magellanic Penguin chick on May 12, following the breeding season in late March. This is the first Penguin chick born at the aquarium since Diego in 2015.
The newest arrival will stay in the nest with the parents, who share brooding and feeding responsibilities equally, until around 75 to 90 days-of-age. After one year, a genetic test will determine whether the chick is a boy or a girl. Around that time, the chick will also be given a name.
The chick weighed 95 grams at birth. At two to three months, the chick is expected to reach comparable height and weight of an adult penguin, while preparing to molt and acquire their adult feathers. Animal care staff will weigh the bird daily to ensure continuous growth as a sign of successful rearing. According to Aquarium staff, the weight of the chick on day two was 103 grams, which is consistent with the gain anticipated at this early stage.
Penguin trainers at Shedd will continue to monitor the chick for activity, vocalizations, hydration levels and more. Technology plays a big role in this process, as sensors can track temperature and humidity in the habitat, and cameras allow for off-site screening which allows for fewer disturbances to the natural process of raising chicks.
Before any hatchings, animal care staff at Shedd Aquarium use candling, the process of holding a strong light to an egg, to observe inside the egg to determine if it is fertile, track growth, check for steady movements and more. Trainers start the process at seven days after an egg is laid and continuously monitor progress week-to-week.
The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to South America and breeds in coastal Argentina, Chile and the Falkland Islands, with some migrating to Brazil.
Its nearest relatives are the African, Humboldt Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin.
The Magellanic Penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520. The species is currently listed as “Near Threatened” on the IUCN Red List.