Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, recently welcomed two Magellanic Penguin chicks.
The chicks hatched following the annual breeding season that began with nesting. In late March, the Magellanic and Rockhopper Penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the aquarium’s Polar Play Zone exhibit.
Both Magellanic Penguin eggs were produced by the same breeding pair: Chile and JR.
“Chick 420” hatched on May 17, and bonding with the biological parents began immediately. Chick 420 will remain in the nest with both adults who will rear the young bird.
“Chick 421” hatched a few days later on May 20. Attending chicks is a full-time job with duties shared by both parents. By having the chicks raised by two different pairs, each chick gets individualized attention and the parenting birds all get additional experience as they learn how to best care for chicks. Therefore, the second egg was given to foster parents, Howard and Georgia. According to keepers, the pair has been taking turns feeding and incubating the chick like it was their own.
“Having a chick successfully hatch from its egg is just the first of many milestones that we look for in these first few weeks, but our team is cautiously optimistic,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of Penguins and Sea Otters. “We’ll continue to monitor both chicks closely over the next few weeks, looking for consistent weight gain and to see how the parents are doing with sharing their responsibilities.”
Upon hatching, Chick 420 weighed 76 grams, and Chick 421 weighed 64 grams. The animal care staff will monitor the birds from afar, with the help of cameras and sensors set up behind-the-scenes, stepping in only for quick check-ups and collecting weights for the chicks. Full growth is expected after two to three months, but until then, Penguin trainers will continue to monitor the hatchlings for additional milestones, as well as tracking vocalizations, hydration levels, grooming and more.
The newest arrivals are Shedd’s second and third Magellanic Penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) hatched and raised at the aquarium, after Nia, who just celebrated her first birthday earlier this month. Since some of the aquarium’s Magellanic Penguins are just now reaching reproductive maturity and beginning to pair off and participate in breeding season, the arrival of another Magellanic Penguin chick was increasingly likely.