Two Humboldt Penguin chicks hatched at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo on May 1 and May 4. The chicks made their public debut in early June.
The chicks are both males and are named Peru and Lima (“Lee-ma”) in honor of their native habitat off the coast of Peru.
Both chicks are the offspring of Penguin parents Frederico and Poquita. Foster parents Venti and Isa are helping to raise the older chick, Peru, to give both chicks a strong start. The adults will feed the chicks until they are big enough to take fish directly from keepers. Penguins at the zoo are hand-fed twice a day so animal care staff can keep records of how much food each bird consumes.
Weighing only a few ounces at hatching, the chicks have grown rapidly. Each now weighs well over five pounds.
The new chicks bring the number of birds in the zoo’s Humboldt Penguin colony to 34. They will remain off exhibit with their parents until their waterproof feathers come in, then they will practice their swimming skills in the small indoor pool before joining the rest of the colony later this year.
Zoo Director Ted Fox said the new chicks were bred as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Humboldt Penguins overseen by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. More than 55 Penguin chicks have hatched at the zoo since it joined the SSP in 2005, and many have gone to other AZA institutions to help preserve the species.
Humboldt Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. In historic times, their nesting grounds were destroyed by guano mining, where deposits of their excrement were dug up and sold as fertilizer. In recent decades, changes in ocean temperatures, ocean acidification, and overfishing in the Penguins' hunting waters have pushed populations even lower. Today, about 32,000 mature individuals are estimated to live on the coasts of Peru and Chile.