The chick, one of only three Andean Condors to hatch in North American zoos in the last year, was named by generous friends of the National Aviary. Today, she fledged the nest for the first time.
September 8, 2022 (Pittsburgh, Penn.) – Welcome, Marijo! The National Aviary today announced that the female Andean Condor chick who hatched on June 7 has been named by Rich Caruso and John and Mary Ann DiDonato, three generous supporters of the National Aviary. Andean Condors are Critically Endangered in Ecuador, where the National Aviary has worked for years to support conservation of the species. In an exciting turn of events, Marijo fledged the nest this afternoon, taking her first steps out of the nest cave where she has been staying with her mother, Lianni. Marijo may continue to spend a majority of her time in the nest cave as she acclimates.
It’s a girl! The National Aviary today announced the sex and name of the newest addition to the flock: an endangered African Penguin chick that hatched on January 3. A DNA feather test was performed, the results of which revealed that the chick is female. Generous donor, board member, and friend of the National Aviary, Rich Caruso, named the penguin, now known as Marge, in honor of his mother.
In a video released by the National Aviary, Senior Aviculturist Chris Gaus opens a large toy egg, revealing a plush pink penguin doll nestled inside. On the wing of the penguin is a thin black band reading “Marge.” This wing band, used for identification purposes, will later be placed on the wing of Marge the penguin herself.
Marge is the eleventh African Penguin to hatch at the National Aviary, and the first to hatch to parents Buddy and Holly. With only 13,000 pairs remaining in the wild in South Africa, African Penguins are endangered, and their populations have experienced precipitous declines. Every hatching represents progress for the future of this charismatic species.
“I am pleased to work with the National Aviary to name their new African Penguin chick in honor of my mother, Margaret Caruso, and I would like to thank the National Aviary for their exemplary work saving birds and protecting their habitats,” said Rich Caruso. “My mother is nearing her 100th birthday, and she loves the National Aviary and is looking forward to visiting again to see Marge the penguin once the pandemic ends.”
There is no way to determine the sex of a penguin just by looking. A DNA test is performed once the penguin begins to grow its juvenile feathers. These feathers replace the chick’s soft, downy fuzz, making the penguin waterproof and prepared for a life of diving and swimming. As these juvenile feathers grow in, the distinctive “tuxedo” look, the hallmark of African Penguins, begins to emerge. At almost three months old, Marge is nearing her full adult size.
The National Aviary participates in the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for African Penguins. A collaborative effort among Association of Zoos and Aquariums accredited institutions, SSPs work to enhance conservation of the species and ensure the entire population of African Penguins remains genetically diverse and demographically stable for the long-term future.
The National Aviary is also the leader of the Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program for African Penguins. SAFE is a collaborative, international effort to identify and address conservation challenges faced by African Penguins across their range. Human disturbances, including over-fishing, human activity at nesting sites, and disasters like oil spills, have had a profound impact on African Penguin populations. The National Aviary provides practical steps visitors can take to ease the pressures on African Penguins and other wildlife, including buying sustainable seafood, using less plastic, and supporting the work of conservation organizations.
For a short time, National Aviary visitors may be able to see Marge, who will make appearances in the Avian Care Center window, daily from 12:30-2:00 p.m. The National Aviary has enhanced safety protocols in place that align with CDC and Allegheny County Health Department guidelines. The financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been profound and capacity limitations continue to limit revenue. The National Aviary is committed to providing high quality, uncompromising care for the more than 500 animals that call the National Aviary home. The support of caring community members helps the National Aviary provide exceptional care for birds like this African Penguin chick. Donations can be made at aviary.org.
A Grey Crowned-crane, which hatched at the National Aviary on July 27, made its public debut last week. The fluffy chick strutted around the historic National Aviary Rose Garden for visitors, stretching its long legs during one of its multiple daily walks. The daily walks provide the chick with opportunities to stretch its growing legs and prepare it for its role as an educational ambassador for its species.
“The hatching of our new Grey Crowned-crane chick is an exciting opportunity for visitors to experience what we at the National Aviary see every day: birds growing and thriving. Visitors can watch this chick grow up right before their eyes,” said Cathy Schlott, Curator of Behavioral Management and Education at the National Aviary. “The fact that Grey Crowned-cranes are endangered makes this little one even more special!”
Grey Crowned-cranes (Balearica regulorum) are one of the most recognizable crane species, noted for their elaborate golden-yellow plumage resembling a crown on their heads. Cranes are precocial birds, and begin walking and exploring their world within hours of hatching.
The crane chick is being hand-raised by experts at the National Aviary, where it will live behind the scenes and become an educational ambassador for its species. Visitors to the National Aviary will be able to meet the crane and learn about the species. Grey Crowned-cranes are listed as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, with fewer than 25,000 individuals remaining in the wild. Native to the wetlands and grasslands of Eastern and Southern Africa, the species faces declining numbers due to habitat loss and overuse of pesticides.
The National Aviary’s new chick weighed 87 grams when it hatched, and was about the size of a large pear, and is growing rapidly. Recently, it weighed 183 grams, about a half a pound. In just three months, the downy tan chick will reach its full adult size of over three feet tall, with a wingspan of 6.5 feet. In about 18 months, the chick will have full adult plumage, and will be a striking gray with red, black, and white features. A feather DNA test will determine the sex of the chick.
Staff from the National Aviary traveled to South Africa to assist with the rescue of nearly 2,000 Lesser Flamingo chicks that were abandoned due to severe drought.
Photo Credit: National Aviary
In response to an international call for expert volunteers to aid in the care of 1800 Lesser Flamingo chicks abandoned by their parents due to drought conditions near their nesting site, the National Aviary has sent avian specialist Teri Grendzinski to the SANCCOB rescue center in South Africa.
A lack of water resulting from low rainfall, high temperatures and failing infrastructure at the Kamfers Dam in Kimberly, in the Northern Cape, led adult Flamingos to abandon their hatchlings. The chicks were airlifted to rescue and rehabilitation centers in South Africa.
Ms. Grendzinski, who has more than 25 years of experience and has helped hand-raise multiple Flamingo chicks through the years, is on site in South Africa, where she is lending her expertise and providing hands-on assistance.
Volunteers are working round the clock to prepare food, and hand-feed, bathe and clean the chicks, as well to provide exercise opportunities for the older chicks. As these chicks are destined for release if all goes well, care protocols are being created to prevent the birds from imprinting with their caregivers, and to foster other natural behaviors. Ms. Grendzinski has been reporting in daily with a detailed account of her work there and providing insight into the long-term challenges ahead as the chicks grow, mature and fledge.
Lesser Flamingos are the smallest Flamingo species and are native to sub-Saharan Africa. They are listed as Near Threatened by the International Union for Conservation of Nature due to the low number of breeding sites. Most of the breeding sites are threatened by human activities.
The National Aviary recently introduced its new Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth. The female was born August 21, 2017 and has been named Vivien, in honor of the iconic actress, Vivien Leigh.
Measuring about 14 ½” long and weighing almost 2.5 pounds, Vivien made her appearance in the arms of her caretakers. Dr. Pilar Fish, National Aviary Director of Veterinary Medicine, conducted a checkup to assess Vivien’s growth and overall health, and at the end of the exam pronounced the little Sloth in excellent health.
Photo Credits: National Aviary/Jamie Greene (Video features a joint announcement with special friend of the National Aviary and Ellen Degeneres, Violet Spataro.)
Vivien will be hand-raised by National Aviary experts, so she’ll be comfortable around people and well prepared for her role as an educational ambassador.
Linnaeus's Two-toed Sloth (Choloepus didactylus) is a species of sloth from South America. They are found in Venezuela, the Guyanas, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Brazil north of the Amazon River. Their habitats are rapidly diminishing due to human activity.
Guests who meet the new baby Sloth will learn about the importance of conservation and what steps they can take to protect rainforest creatures. Visitors can see the baby during daily “Sloth Talks” at 12:30 pm, beginning January 9 (included with admission). In addition, guests will have the opportunity to book an interactive encounter with her beginning February 1st in which guests can touch the Sloth, take photos, and interact with her in a comfortable, private setting.
Two other Sloths, Valentino and Wookiee, also make their home at the National Aviary.
“We are delighted to welcome another Sloth,” says National Aviary Executive Director Cheryl Tracy. “Public response to the arrival of Valentino in 2016 was, and has continued to be, overwhelmingly positive, and with so much interest in seeing and learning about this remarkable species, we felt that the time was right to introduce another. Like Valentino, this precious little girl Sloth will be an ambassador for her species, and for all those creatures that live in the rain forests and cloud forests of Central and South America. And we hope that one day, several years down the road, Vivien and Valentino will become parents to new Sloths born at the National Aviary.”
A baby Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloth arrived at the National Aviary last week, and guests can get “up close and fuzzy” with the new arrival when he begins his role as an animal ambassador.
Photo Credit: National Aviary
Born October 31, the baby Sloth is about 10 inches long and weighs about two pounds. He’s already weaned from his mother, and the staff is feeding him every two hours. He gets a daily check from the veterinary staff and daily weigh-ins to make sure he’s adjusting well to his new home.
The little Sloth does not yet have a name, but aviary staff will give the public an opportunity to suggest names in a few weeks.
Dr. Fish, the aviary’s Director of Veterinary Medicine, says, “All baby Sloths stop nursing at around one month old. He is very strong, eating well, and meeting all his landmarks for a three-month-old Sloth. This age is the ideal time [to introduce him to our staff] because he is old enough and can start to bond with his caregivers. It is similar to puppies being adopted at 8 weeks old.”
Keepers will begin teaching the Sloth to interact with people by using positive reinforcement and enrichment. He will be able to choose his behaviors and be rewarded for positive actions. In a few months, the baby Sloth will participate in daily encounters with aviary guests.
Linnaeus’s Two-toed Sloths are native to South America, where they spend most of their lives in the rain forest canopy. They are well-known for being slow-moving, a trait which is linked to their diet. The leaves and buds that Sloths consume provide very little energy or nutrients and can take a month or more to digest. Huge hooked claws are just right for hanging from tree branches. Sloths descend to the ground only about once a week for toileting. Otherwise, they eat, sleep and even have their babies while hanging from tree branches.
Just three-and-a-half weeks after tens of thousands of viewers watched them hatch and grow via streaming nest camera, the National Aviary’s African Penguin chicks made their public debut, on January 8th.
Photo Credits: National Aviary
On the morning of January 6, 2015, the penguin chicks were moved indoors to the National Aviary’s AvianCareCenter. A check-up by National Aviary Veterinarian, Dr. Pilar Fish, confirmed that both chicks are doing well.
Both chicks will be hand-reared in the AvianCareCenter, part of the National Aviary’s bird hospital, by experienced National Aviary staff. This is the third pair of penguin chicks in three years hatched at the National Aviary to penguin parents ‘Sidney’ and ‘Bette’.
National Aviary visitors can see the chicks up-close through a viewing window into the AvianCareCenter. Every day through early February, visitors can watch the chicks being fed and cared for by staff.
The sex of the chicks is not yet known. During the chicks’ first medical exam in December, while they were still living in the nest, feather samples were collected for each chick. The sex of immature African Penguins can only be determined with DNA testing. Feathers were sent to a lab for analysis; it will be another week before results are known.
When the sex is known, the National Aviary will launch an online auction so members of the public can bid on the opportunity to name one of the penguins.
The first chick hatched on December 15 and today is 24 days old weighing 727 grams. The second chick hatched December 18 and today weighs 548 grams. African Penguin chicks grow quickly. They will double, or even triple their weight week by week. By the time they reach full size, which takes about eight weeks, their weight will have increased by 2000%.
When these two chicks join the flock, the National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit will be home to nineteen African Penguins. African Penguins are a critically endangered species, with fewer than 20,000 remaining the wild. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), the National Aviary’s penguins are part of an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African Penguins for future generations.
On March 13 this Eurasian Eagle Owl hatched at Pittsburgh's National Aviary, the only one of its species hatched at any AZA facility in the past five years. The newly-hatched chick weighed 49.5 grams to start and has developed beautifully, doubling in size in just five days. By one month of age she was standing, walking and stretching her wings, as well as beginning public appearances to serve as an ambassador for her species. DNA testing of the egg verified what the measurements predicted: the owl is a female.
The bird’s parents, named X and Dumbledore, serve as education birds, trained to free fly in shows and perch on a glove for group programs. On September 25, during X's break from performing, she was placed in an exhibit adjacent to Dumbledore for a two-month howdy period. They were introduced, and breeding behaviors were seen within six weeks of pairing. A total of three eggs were laid every other day, the first on February 7. Shortly before hatching, the fertile egg was removed from the nest to complete incubation for hand-rearing. Click HERE to read all the details of the fascinating hatching and rearing process.
Photo Credit: National Aviary
Eurasian Eagle-owls are the largest species of owl in the world and are found in North Africa, Europe, Asia and Middle East. Females, on average, are one third larger than the male. Males weigh 4- 5 ½ pounds, while a larger female can weigh close to 7 pounds. Their height ranges from 2 to 2 ½ feet tall, with a wingspan of approximately 5 ½ feet.
See the owl on it's first TV show. Story and pictures continue after the jump:
The first television outing for the owlette was an appearance on Pittsburgh Today Live, where it perched for the first time. The baby did a great job educating people about the species, but all the activity brought on a little nap.