The penguin colony at Shedd Aquarium has begun its annual nesting season, which provides a unique peek into their lifecycle as the Magellanic and rockhopper penguins begin building their nests, attracting mates, and pairing up. The weeks-long nest-building process is signaled by changes in the daily light cycle and the addition of materials like lavender sprigs and rocks to the habitat for the birds to gather for their nests.
Occasionally, nesting results in eggs laid and potentially hatched, where the bonded penguin pair would take turns sitting on the nests to keep the eggs or chicks warm. It is expected that eggs may start to be seen throughout April and May. While not every egg laid by the penguins is fertile, last year, four Magellanic chicks – Porter, Popi, Dee, and Sir Elio – joined the penguin colony following the nesting and mating season. The four new arrivals contribute to Shedd’s participation in a conservation effort among aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in a cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan for Magellanic penguins, which are listed as nearly threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
While the penguins may have gone “offline” from programs like the virtual penguin encounter for their nesting season, guests who visit Shedd Aquarium can observe the birds in the colony and get an up-close look at this season. For anyone unable to visit or looking for a deeper connection to the aquatic animal world, there are still several virtual animal encounters offered through May 31, 2021.
By purchasing a ticket or participating in a program, you are helping to support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care. For additional ways to support Shedd Aquarium and help fuel its mission, please visit https://www.sheddaquarium.org/about-shedd/support-us.
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin