Penguin

Vulnerable Humboldt Penguin Chick Duo Hatches

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Woodland Park Zoo’s breeding season for Humboldt Penguins has closed with the successful hatching of two chicks.

Incubation for penguins takes 40 to 42 days, with both parents sharing incubation duties in the nest and day-to-day care for their chicks.

The new chicks bring the total number of successful hatchings of the species at the zoo to 70 since the zoo’s first breeding season in 2010, a year after the penguin habitat opened. The sex of the chicks is unknown until DNA testing can be conducted.

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4_60358743_10157549803857708_8416709799219036160_nPhoto Credits: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo

The chicks are off exhibit in nesting burrows where they are under the care of the parents. To ensure they are achieving growth milestones, staff weighs them as they develop with minimal intervention to allow the parents to raise their chicks and gain parental experience.

The first chick hatched April 5 to mom, Claudia, and dad, Cortez; it is the third offspring for the parents. The second chick hatched May 1 and was placed under the care of foster parents, Mateo and Mini; the biological parents were moved to an aquarium under a breeding recommendation made by the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan, a cooperative, conservation breeding program across accredited zoos to help ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of penguins.

Before new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they are removed from the nest so animal keepers can condition the birds to approach them for hand feeding and other animal care activities. The chicks also are given round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment. New chicks join the colony in the outdoor habitat sometime in early summer.

People do not usually think of penguins as a desert-dwelling species. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, Humboldt Penguins (Spheniscus humboldti) inhabit hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile. They live on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands. Humboldt Penguins have a body made to swim. Using their strong wings, they “fly” underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.

Humboldt Penguins are currently classified as “Vulnerable” on the IUCN Red List. Approximately 30,000 to 35,000 survive in their natural range. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt Penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, Peru, breeding the birds through the Species Survival Plan, and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options as directed by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Punta San Juan is home to 5,000 Humboldt Penguins, the largest colony in Peru.

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Penguin Chick Gets A "Cool" Name

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With the Midwest in the grip of a brutal winter, the Kansas City Zoo has welcomed two King Penguin chicks.

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KCZoo King Penguin Chick #2Photo Credit: Kansas City Zoo

The first chick hatched on January 13 during a blizzard and was given the name “Blizzard” by the care team. A second King Penguin chick hatched on February 2 during the polar vortex which brought below-zero temperatures to Kansas City. The zoo solicited name suggestions for the second chick on Facebook, and fans suggested wintry names for little ball of fluff. Top names included “Pothole,” “Snowball,” “Icee,” “Chilly,” and “Vortex.” Vortex was chosen as the winning name.

You can see the entire Penguin habitat and all its residents every day on the zoo’s Penguin Cam.

There, you’ll see “play pens” separating the two chicks and their parents from the rest of the flock. This allows the other penguins to see and hear the new arrivals, but gives the new families some privacy. Blizzard, the older of the two Penguin chicks, has his very own Blizzard Cam. On that camera, you’ll see Blizzard, who is covered in fuzzy gray feathers and stands almost as tall as his parents.

At up to 39 inches tall, King Penguins are the second largest of all Penguin species. They nest on temperate islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and on the coast of Antarctica. Diving to depths of more than 300 feet, King Penguins forage for fish, squid, and krill in the cold Antarctic waters. King Penguins as a whole are not under threat at this time, but certain populations, including those on Pig Island, have declined 90% in recent years. Scientists are not certain if this is due to changes in the ecosystem, or if the Penguins have dispersed to new breeding grounds.


King Penguin Chick Makes a Grand Entrance

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While fluffy snow was recently blanketing Kansas City, Missouri and knocking out power metro wide, including at the Kansas City Zoo, something exciting was happening inside the Helzberg Penguin Plaza. The first King Penguin egg to be laid at the Zoo hatched on Sunday, January 13. The name “Blizzard” was chosen for this chick since it made its entrance into the world during one big snowstorm!

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Helzberg Penguin Plaza opened its doors in October 2013 and became home to several King Penguins. But it wasn’t until this winter that those penguins formed love connections. In late November, the Zoo’s first King Penguin egg was laid, and parents Jilly and Dwayne kept dutiful watch over it. For king penguins, that required them to hold the delicate egg on their feet to keep it warm, taking turns doing so for the 53-day incubation period. On January 13, the new chick was finally ready to hatch!

Zookeepers have been keeping an eye on the chick, weighing it periodically to make sure its gaining weight. Jilly and Dwayne are first-time parents but are doing a great job feeding and caring for little Blizzard.

Visitors can see the chick, Blizzard, and the rest of the flock in Helzberg Penguin Plaza.

The King Penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) is a large species of penguin, second only to the Emperor Penguin in size. There are two subspecies: A. p. patagonicus and A. p. halli; patagonicus is found in the South Atlantic and halli found at the Kerguelen Islands and Crozet Island, Prince Edward Islands, Heard Island and McDonald Islands, and Macquarie Island.


'Preemie' Penguin Saved by London Zoo Keepers

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Keepers at ZSL London Zoo’s were checking the nest boxes at their Penguin Beach exhibit. Unfortunately, they found one of this season’s eggs had been accidentally broken by its parents, but they were astonished to find the tiny chick still alive inside!

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4_Rainbow the penguin chick at ZSL London Zoo (c) ZSL (8)Photo Credits: Zoological Society of London

Quick-thinking keepers knew the delicate Humboldt Penguin chick (nicknamed Rainbow) wouldn’t survive without help, so they rushed her to the Zoo’s onsite vet clinic, where the heroic vet team sprang into action.

ZSL penguin keeper, Suzi Hyde, explained, “The chick had a little way to go before she should have hatched, so it was very much touch and go – but we knew we had to get her safely out of the shell and into an incubator to give her a fighting chance.”

ZSL vets carefully set about removing bits of shell from around the tiny chick with tweezers until she could be gently lifted out and laid in a makeshift nest - before being transferred to the custom-built incubation room in the colony’s home on Penguin Beach.

“We were overjoyed when she started begging for food by opening her mouth wide and making tiny squawks. It was the first sign that she might just make it.”

Rainbow spent the next few weeks cozying up to a cuddly toy penguin under the warming glow of a heat lamp and being hand-fed three times a day with a special diet of blended fish, vitamins and minerals – referred to by ZSL London Zoo’s bird keepers as ‘penguin milkshake’.

“Rainbow’s bodyweight has steadily increased by around 20 per cent every day, so she’s growing extremely quickly,” said Suzi. “She’s always eager for her next meal and makes sure we know it’s feeding time – she may be only weeks old but she’s definitely perfected her squawk already.”

“Penguins do accidentally step on their eggs, which – even if the chick survives – invariably leads to them rejecting the infant. Luckily a combination of heroic keepers and a very plucky chick meant that Rainbow will be splashing around in Penguin Beach with the rest of the colony this summer.”

Continue reading "'Preemie' Penguin Saved by London Zoo Keepers" »


‘Four-Pack’ of Cuteness at Jacksonville Zoo

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens hatched some delightful new additions last month. Two penguin chicks and two flamingo chicks are said to have waddled into the hearts of zoo staff.

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The darling pair of Magellanic Penguins hatched two days apart, on June 16 and 18 respectively. Their teeny little flippers, beaks, and everything else, have enchanted everyone who has met them. Both chicks are thriving under the care of each of their proud parents, and they will go on exhibit in the Zoo’s Tuxedo Coast at about three months of age.

The Greater Flamingo chicks got a later start, but they’re quickly giving the penguins a run for their money for title of ‘cutest birds in the zoo’. The first baby hatched on June 21, followed by the second on June 27.

The younger of the two flamingos can be seen on exhibit with its parents, while the older is being hand-reared. This means lots of up-close and personal time with keepers as it grows up and into those big feet. It will continue to be looked after by the attentive keepers until it is old enough to join the rest of the flock.

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Four New Penguin Chicks Pass Their Physicals

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A total of four Magellanic Penguin chicks hatched recently at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Magellanic Penguin parents, “Yellow” and “Orange,” welcomed two chicks last week. These new chicks joined two chicks that hatched the week before to parents, “Pink” and “Red.”

Magellanic Penguins at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are not named but rather are known by the colors of the identification bands on their wings.

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Recently, zookeepers and a veterinarian carefully lifted the four small gray balls of fluff out of their two burrows – and very briefly away from their parents – to weigh the little penguins and give them well-chick examinations. The verdict: All of Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s newest residents are healthy and appear to be thriving!

Zoo veterinarians carefully examined each chick for overall body condition and energy and hydration levels to assess their health.

“The newest chicks were quite robust and active during their exams,” said the zoo’s Head Veterinarian, Dr. Karen Wolf. “They are endearingly plump and their parents are doing a great job caring for them,” said Wolf.

The newest hatchlings weighed-in at 4.5 ounces and 10 ounces.

“The two older chicks are continuing to thrive and are rapidly gaining weight,” said Wolf. They now weigh 14.9 and 17.7 ounces.  

The two new families are on exhibit in the Penguin Point habitat at the zoo, but spotting the chicks will take patience. They’re usually safely hidden under one of the parents while they’re being kept warm during the day, coming out occasionally for feeding. The parents feed the chicks a slurry of regurgitated fish after the adults have eaten herring and capelin.

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Shedd Waits Three Years for New Penguin Chick

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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.

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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.

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Rescued Little Penguins Return to the Sea

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On April 17, Taronga Wildlife Hospital staff released five healthy Little Penguins into the sea after nursing them back to health in Sydney, Australia.

The birds arrived at Taronga from nearby beaches over the past two months. Injuries included dehydration, a fishing hook injury and a broken foot.

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Photo Credit: Sarah Lievore

Taronga Wildlife Hospital manager Libby Hall said, “Most of the penguins were brought to Taronga Wildlife Hospital by members of the community who saw them in difficulty and took action. The community’s awareness of Little Penguins and other wildlife is increasing all the time and by acting quickly, they give us the best chance to help the birds through difficult times.”

The penguins were nicknamed by the Taronga Wildlife Hospital:

  • Bondi, found on Bondi Beach
  • Footsie, found in Newcastle on Stockton Beach
  • Nigel, found Chowder Bay in Mosman
  • Margaret, found in Maroubra
  • Collin, found on Collins Beach in Manly

Penguins hunt for fish as they swim in the ocean. Little Penguins become vulnerable during their annual molt, when their waterproof feathers fall out in clumps. Until their new feathers grow in, they cannot enter the water to capture fish. Because the Penguins do not feed during the molting period, they become emaciated and weak so are vulnerable to domestic pets, most particularly dogs.

The colony of Little Penguins at Manly in Sydney Harbor is the last remaining on the mainland of New South Wales. This population is protected and numbers only about 60 pairs. Other nearby colonies are located on offshore islands, which offer the Penguins some protection from pressure from humans and domestic pets.

Little Penguins are found in habitats along Australia’s southern coast and on the shores of Tasmania. These birds are also present on the southern coast of New Zealand. Several colonies have declined over the past decades, mostly due to human interference and predation. They are listed as a species of Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

People can help Little Penguins at beaches by keeping dogs on leashes, not leaving rubbish including fishing line hooks around and protecting habitat at the shoreline.

See more photos of the Penguin release below.

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Lincoln Park Zoo’s New Exhibit Welcomes First Chick

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The first-ever endangered African Penguin chick has hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo’s new Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove. After a 38-day incubation period, the chick emerged on February 10.

At a recent wellness exam, veterinary staff deemed the chick healthy. During the exam, veterinary staff also drew blood, which will be sent for lab analysis to determine the chick’s sex. Once that is revealed, keepers can decide on an appropriate name.

The chick is the offspring of mom, Robben, and dad, Preston. According to Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds, Sunny Nelson, the first-time parents are proving to be naturals.

“Our keepers are constantly monitoring both the parents and the chick to ensure that the parents are meeting the chick’s needs as it reaches developmental milestones,” said Nelson. “Both Robben and Preston are performing parental duties as expected, sharing brooding and feeding responsibilities.”

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4_20180403_CB_penguin chick-13Photo Credits: Lincoln Park Zoo / Chris Bijalba (Image 1)

African Penguin chicks typically fledge around 70 to 80 days after hatching. The chick will retain its downy feathers until it molts into waterproof juvenile plumage. After one to two years, African Penguins molt into their iconic tuxedo-like adult plumage.

Animal Care staff plans to give the chick access to a behind-the-scenes pool to ensure that its feathers are waterproof before introducing the chick to the rest of the exhibit.

The chick’s parents were paired as a part of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative population management effort among institutions within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

Continue reading "Lincoln Park Zoo’s New Exhibit Welcomes First Chick" »


This Penguin Chick Will Have An Important Job

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A Humboldt Penguin chick that hatched on February 12 at Brookfield Zoo is thriving, and in the near future, may be taking on an important role. As early as this May, and depending on whether he chooses to participate, the unnamed chick will be an animal ambassador for the zoo’s Penguin Encounters.

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29542154_10156436472994170_1738579396798709760_nPhoto Credit: Brookfield Zoo

Currently being hand-reared by animal care staff, the chick is being carefully monitored. He is weighed three times a day—once each morning to determine how much weight was gained over a 24-hour period, as well as after each feeding to calculate how much of its diet of herring and marine smelt he consumed.

The chick will molt from his down feathers into juvenile plumage by two months of age, at which time he will be introduced to a shallow pool of water. Adult plumage will not be present until the chick is about two years old. In addition to possibly being an integral member of the Penguin Encounters, the chick will be introduced to and reside in the Humboldt Penguin colony in the rocky shores habitat at Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast.

Each Penguin Encounter begins with a member of the animal care staff sharing fun facts about the zoo’s resident Humboldt penguins and communicating how to safely interact with the penguin during the session. During the program, penguins are free to roam and waddle up to anyone they choose – and while one animal may be camera-shy, another individual may enjoy a good selfie or two. The animals appear to find the encounters as enriching as guests and each penguin ambassador chooses whether to participate in the encounters. Staff also talk about the conservation work the Chicago Zoological Society is doing in Punta San Juan, Peru, to help preserve the habitat and abundant wildlife, including Humboldt Penguins that live along the South American coastline.

Humboldt Penguins are native to the Pacific coastlines of Peru and Chile. The population has fallen due to climate change, guano mining, and competition for food with commercial fisheries. The birds are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.