Penguin Chick Goes For Its First Swim

Penguin Chick Square

A two-month old African Penguin chick went for its first swim at the Tulsa Zoo.

The chick hatched on January 17 to mom Keppy, age 26, and her mate Rogue, age 9. Keppy is the third-oldest member of the Tulsa Zoo’s penguin flock.

Penguin 1
Penguin 1Photo Credit: Tulsa Zoo

The chick’s gender is not yet known. A DNA sample will be sent to an outside lab to determine the new Penguin’s sex.

Last week, the chick enjoyed its first swim under close supervision in a small pool behind-the-scenes. Penguin chicks have fluffy down feathers, which are not as water repellent as the feathers of adult Penguins. Until chicks molt into their waterproof adult plumage when they're a few months old, they are not able to swim well.

“Keppy became a great-grandmother last year,” said Tulsa Zookeeper Seana Flossic. “We are delighted for Keppy and Rogue, a 9-year-old male, to enjoy parenthood together for the first time. They are doing a great job caring for their new chick.”

Seana Flossic manages the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s African Penguin Studbook as a part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), keeping records on all AZA members’ flocks. The SSP makes recommendations on breeding and transfers to ensure the long-term health of this species.

This chick is the 37th penguin to hatch at the Tulsa Zoo since 2002.

African Penguins are native to the southern coast of Africa and are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The population has fallen from more than one million birds in 1900 to fewer than 80,000 today. Oil spills and competition with commercial fisheries have contributed to the birds’ steep decline.

Blissful Winter Baby Boom at Columbus Zoo

1_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2614 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium recently announced the arrival of seven babies, representing three at-risk species, born in late January and early February. The new additions are: five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, a Silvered Leaf Langur baby, and a Humboldt Penguin chick.

According to the Zoo, each new little one contributes to maximizing genetic diversity within their species and sustaining populations of those facing serious threats to their future in their native ranges.

The baby boom began with the arrival of the five Asian Small-clawed Otter pups, born during the early morning hours of January 26.

Native to coastal regions from southern India to Southeast Asia, Asian Small-clawed Otters (Aonyx cinereus) are often threatened by habitat destruction, pollution and hunting. These factors place them at risk in their native range, and they are currently classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN.

The pups (three males and two females) were born to first-time parents, Gus and Peanut. Peanut was born in 2014 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo in April 2017 from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. Father, Gus, was born in 2008 and arrived at the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2014.

According to staff, the young pups are thriving under the watchful eyes of both of their parents and are expected to be on view to the public later this spring.

2_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2306 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

3_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2294 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

4_Asia Small Clawed Otter Pups 2271 - Grahm S. Jones  Columbus Zoo and AquariumPhoto Credits: Grahm S. Jones/ Columbus Zoo and Aquarium

The Columbus Zoo was also proud to welcome a female Silvered Leaf Langur baby on February 16. The female was born to mother, Patty, and father, Thai. Patty made her way to the Columbus Zoo from the Bronx Zoo in 2007 and has given birth to seven offspring. Thai arrived at the Columbus Zoo in 2015 from the San Diego Zoo and has fathered a total of four infants.

Patty, Thai, and the newest Langur arrival are currently on view in the Zoo’s Asia Quest region. Staff reports that the baby is easy to spot as Langurs are born bright orange, as opposed to their adult counterparts with black fur and silvered tips. This difference in coat color is believed to encourage other female Langurs to assist in raising the young, a practice called “allomothering”.

In their native ranges, Silvered Leaf Langurs (Trachypithecus cristatus) can be found in areas including Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia. The species’ populations in these countries are decreasing due to habitat loss as lands are cleared for oil palm plantations or destroyed by forest fires. Langurs are also hunted for their meat or taken for the pet trade.

The Columbus Zoo’s pairing of Patty and Thai was based on an SSP recommendation, and the birth of the new baby will play an important role in helping manage this at-risk species. Silvered Leaf Langurs are listed as “Near Threatened” by the IUCN, due to population declines caused by habitat loss. The arrival of this Langur baby at the Columbus Zoo is an important part of sustaining the population among AZA-accredited zoos, certified related facilities and conservation partners.

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‘Time to Vote’…Help Name These Penguin Chicks


Monterey Bay Aquarium needs your help selecting names for two of their Penguin chicks! They are hosting a poll where fans and supporters can choose their favorite name, for each chick, from a pre-determined list found at this link:

The soon-to-be-named fuzzy ones are both African Penguins. The male chick hatched on January 19 and is being raised by Pringle and Messina. The female also hatched on January 19 and is being raised by Walvis and Boulders. These are the ninth and 10th chicks to hatch at the aquarium.


TR18-0213Photo Credits: Monterey Bay Aquarium

Both chicks are currently behind the scenes for their safety. In a few months, they’ll return to the Aquarium’s Penguin colony in ‘Splash Zone’.

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is a species confined to southern African waters. Like all extant penguins, it is flightless, with a streamlined body, and wings stiffened and flattened into flippers for a marine habitat. Adults weigh on average of 5 to 8 pounds and are about 24–28 inches tall.

The species is a pursuit diver and prefers to feed on fish and squid. Once numerous, the species is declining in the wild due to a combination of threats and is currently classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN.

The African Penguin is featured in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ new SAFE program: Saving Animals from Extinction. AZA SAFE is a collaborative campaign among more than 230 accredited members of AZA to combine resources and expertise to save animals from extinction.

Endangered Penguin Chicks Hatch at Lowry Park Zoo

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A baby boom continues at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo with the hatching of three African Penguin chicks. The Zoo’s “clutch mate” chicks hatched on January 7 and January 9 (weighing in at 54 grams and 48 grams) to experienced parents Tinkerbell and Loki.

“Clutch mates,” means that Tinkerbell’s two chicks hatched from eggs that she laid a few days apart. The third African Penguin chick at the Zoo hatched on January 12 (weighing in at 53 grams) to first time parents Tyke and Tyra.

“Both pairs of parents are doing a great job taking care of their chicks,” said Chris Massaro, General Curator at Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo. “The addition of these chicks is a great win for the species and an exciting time for our community to learn more about these beautiful birds.”

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3_TLPZ - African penguins (4)

4_TLPZ - African penguins (2)Photo Credits: TLPZ

The Zoo, currently home to a colony of twelve African Penguins, participates in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). The program of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) protects wildlife species at risk of extinction. Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo (TLPZ) also participates in the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program which focuses on having animal experts identify threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and educate visitors on animal conservation. At the same time, SAFE will build capacity to increase direct conservation spending, as well as our members’ impact on saving species through work in the field, in our zoos and aquariums, and through public engagement. We have done it before. Some species exist only because of the efforts of aquariums and zoos and their contributing partners. The three chicks will be the first additions to the Zoo’s colony since June 2014.

According to keepers, it is very difficult to tell a penguin chick’s sex. A DNA blood test will be used to determine the sex of the chicks when they are old enough. The Zoo uses bands on the adult penguins’ flippers to differentiate: right flippers for males and left flippers for females. TLPZ plans to publicly reveal the sex of the chicks in the near future.

Native to the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia, the African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is one of five true warm weather species. The species is classified as “Endangered” by the IUCN due to food shortages from commercial fishing, oil spills, egg collection and fishing nets. The population declined more than 50 percent during the last 40 years.

5_TLPZ - African penguins (1)
5_TLPZ - African penguins (1)

Maryland Zoo Welcomes 1,000th Penguin Chick


The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is thrilled to announce the hatching of their 1,000th African Penguin chick!

This historic milestone marks the first time that any zoo or aquarium in North America has hatched 1,000 African Penguin chicks! The newest chick hatched on February 13th and is the thirteenth to have hatched at the Zoo during the 2017-2018 breeding season. The little one is being parent-reared, behind-the-scenes, in the Zoo’s Penguin Coast Conservation Center.

“I am sure the people who started this penguin colony in 1967 had no idea where it would take the Zoo over time,” stated Don Hutchinson, President/CEO of The Maryland Zoo. “But they had the foresight to manage the penguin colony strategically, applying new scientific techniques as they emerged, while creating one of the most historically memorable Zoo exhibits at Rock Island. Today, we welcome the 1,000th chick at the award-winning Penguin Coast exhibit. This is truly a momentous achievement.”



4_DSC_1165Photo Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in African Penguins for 50 years, hatching their first chick in 1969 and winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) in 1996. The Zoo currently has the largest colony of African penguins in North America.

“This chick is not only the 1,000th to hatch, it also becomes the 94th in our Penguin Coast colony,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection & Conservation Manager. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity. Many of the penguins previously bred at the Zoo have helped establish new colonies at zoos and aquariums around the world.”

Penguins from the Zoo have moved to zoos and aquariums in thirty-five states and six countries including: Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Hungary and South Africa.

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Meet Milwaukee's Newest Penguin Chick

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Meet the new Gentoo Penguin at Milwaukee County Zoo! The chick hatched on December 18 to parents Oscar and Fiona.

The chick still has its soft, fluffy down feathers, which provide warmth but are not suited for swimming. Only when the chick molts into its waterproof plumage, usually around one or two months of age, will it begin learning to swim.

Gentoo Penguin Chick 01-2018-9155 E
Gentoo Penguin Chick 01-2018-9155 EPhoto Credit: Milwaukee County Zoo

Gentoo Penguin parents take turns feeding and caring for their chicks. Both Oscar and Fiona have reared chicks before. The gender of the new chick is not yet known, and will be determined by a blood test. It’s not possible to tell males from females by sight alone.

Penguin chicks at the zoo must learn to take fish from zoo keepers, and this training usually occurs after they have been weaned from their parents and begin to molt. It’s during the molt that the chick’s “baby fuzz” is replaced by sleek, waterproof feathers.

Once the chick has its shiny new feathers, it will be gradually introduced to the exhibit pool and to the other birds in the habitat.

Gentoo Penguins are native to Antarctica. They stand two to three feet tall as adults, making them the third-largest Penguin species, after Emperor and King Penguins. Gentoos live in colonies of several hundred birds along the Antarctic Coast and surrounding islands. These Penguins may dive as many as 500 times per day in search of fish, krill, and squid to eat.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the Gentoo Penguin as a “Species of Least Concern,” though some individual populations have declined rapidly in recent years.


‘King’ of the Penguins Named at Kansas City Zoo

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There’s a new Penguin in the Kansas City Zoo’s ‘Helzberg Penguin Plaza’ exhibit!

Several months ago, the Zoo was fortunate to receive a King Penguin egg from the St. Louis Zoo. The Kansas City Zoo incubated the egg until it was ready to hatch, and on November 8, the new chick made its way out of his shell.

He was hand-raised, behind the scenes, by a group of dedicated Zookeepers until ready to acclimate to the temperatures and feathered friends that come with his permanent exhibit.

Now, through the course of voting via social media, the handsome young King Penguin has been given the very regal name “Louie”.

2_Louie 2Photo Credits: Kansas City Zoo

The chick has grown a lot in two short months, and the Zoo encourages visitors to see him in his ‘penguin playpen’, right on the other side of the glass at the Helzberg Penguin Plaza.

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

King Penguins eat small fish, mainly lanternfish, and squid. They are less reliant on krill and other crustaceans than most Southern Ocean predators.

Point Defiance Zoo’s Penguin Siblings Swim On-Exhibit


The two juvenile Magellanic Penguin chicks, at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, recently slipped into the water of their on-exhibit pool and excitedly darted from end to end.

Members of the adult Penguin colony stood watch on the rocks above, squawking loudly, acting as black-and-white sentries warily guarding their turf from these upstart juveniles. “That’s normal behavior,” staff biologist Amanda Shaffer said. “Eventually, the adults will welcome the younger Penguins into their midst.”

In just 12 weeks, the chicks have grown from fuzzy balls, weighing just under 6 ounces, to recognizable Penguins almost as large as the adults from whose eggs they hatched.

According to zoo staff, the chicks have been off exhibit for a few weeks, gaining strength, getting accustomed to feeding schedules, and growing the coarse feathers and stiff wings needed for swimming. Point Defiance zookeepers have kept careful watch over the brother-and-sister pair as they learned to swim.

The siblings are now on-exhibit daily in the Penguin Point habitat at the zoo.



4_95A0228Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium /Brian DalBalcon

ZooBorns eagerly shared news and adorable pics of the Penguin siblings when their birth was announced earlier in the summer: Point Defiance Zoo Welcomes Magellanic Penguin Chicks”.

The chicks broke out of their shells on May 23 and May 25 and are the first Magellanic Penguins to hatch at the zoo since 2006.

The little Penguins aren’t given names. They are known by the colors of the bands on their wings. These two are the offspring of mother “Pink” and father “Red.” The male chick is banded as “Red/White” and the female is “Pink/Black.”

Point Defiance Zoo’s Penguin colony now numbers a total of ten: five males and five females.

“I’m pleased with their progress,” said Shaffer, the zoo’s lead Penguin keeper. “They are healthy and they did great while learning to dive into the off-exhibit pool, swim and then pull themselves out.”

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Gentoo Penguin Chick Has ‘Big’ Happy Feet

1_Gentoo Penguin chick at 21 days old credit Casey Phillips Tennessee Aquarium

It may only weigh a few pounds, but two of the biggest features of the Tennessee Aquarium’s newest Gentoo Penguin chick have already earned it an unofficial nickname.

Born on June 5 to experienced parents Bug and Big T., the large feet of the newest addition to Penguins’ Rock immediately inspired the moniker “Big Foot.”

“Our animal trainer Holly Gibson chose that name, and it is very fitting,” says Senior Aviculturist Loribeth Lee. “Besides his belly, the feet are the biggest thing on this guy right now! Penguin chicks have almost comically large feet until they grow into them. Having big feet helps Penguins to balance while they are so oddly shaped.”

This nickname is just a placeholder. It will be replaced by an official name, chosen from a crop of keeper-selected alternatives, during a public contest on the Aquarium’s Facebook page later this year.

2_The Gentoo Penguin chick at two days old credit Casey Phillips Tennessee Aquarium

3_Gentoo Penguin Chick at two days old credit Casey Phillips Tennessee Aquarium

4_Senior Aviculturist Loribeth Lee holds the new baby Gentoo Penguin credit Casey Phillips Tennessee AquariumPhoto Credits: Casey Phillips / Tennessee Aquarium

Aquarium staff began noticing signs that the new chick was breaking out of its egg, a process called “pipping,” at 8 a.m. on June 5. The baby Gentoo was fully hatched at 3:30 p.m., a faster-than-average pace, Lee says.

The chick’s gender will remain indeterminate until November, when it can be properly assessed by staff during the colony’s next round of semi-annual physical exams. A drop of the chick’s blood will be sent to a lab, and the DNA results will be available a few days later.

For now, the Aquarium’s Penguin experts are closely monitoring the chick’s growth and health, Lee says.

“The first four weeks of a chick’s life are the most concerning, as there are lots of obstacles to overcome,” she says. “We will continue to keep a close eye on this little bird, especially making sure the nest stays clean and the chick continues to get fed by both parents.”

Until the arrival of its waterproof adult feathers in six to seven weeks, the chick will remain safely corralled with its parents behind a clear, acrylic “play pen.” This barrier around the nest keeps nosey neighbors at flipper’s length away and prevents the baby Penguin from accidentally tumbling into the water.

Despite the uncertainty of this early period in its development, so far the chick has exhibited robust vitals and a healthy appetite. And it is gaining weight at a healthy rate, which indicates the chick’s body should start catching up with its enormous feet soon.

“We like to see the chicks on the higher end of the weight range, as if they do have a drop in weight at any point, then it is less critical than a bird who is on the low end of the weight range,” she says.

The chick’s parents, Bug and Big T., are one of the exhibit’s most prolific breeding pairs, having successfully hatched four chicks: Roxie, Bobber, Rodan and Terk. In all, the residents of Penguins’ Rock have hatched 20 chicks since 2009.

“Even after seeing over 20 chicks hatch here, it never gets old,” Lee says. “It’s so exciting to have a new young one in the group and watching our guests enjoy their progress! The best part of my job is seeing thriving birds in the exhibit, and this one seems to be doing well so far.”

The chick will reach its full, adult size when it is about 75 days old and its full adult weight a few months later after its swim muscles develop.

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Point Defiance Zoo Welcomes Magellanic Penguin Chicks


Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium recently celebrated the hatchings of two Magellanic Penguin chicks. After their first well check examinations, veterinarians determined the pair is healthy and thriving. They are the first Penguin chicks to hatch at the Zoo since 2006.

The first of the new chicks arrived on May 23 and weighed 5.3 ounces at the first exam. The second chick hatched on May 25 and weighed 3.9 ounces, staff biologist Amanda Shaffer said. Each chick was tenderly placed on a towel in a lightweight container and weighed on a portable scale.

“They both look great and were quite active during their physical examinations,” said Zoo Veterinarian, Dr. Kadie Anderson, after the first well check exam. Anderson carefully examined each chick for overall body condition and energy and hydration levels to assess their health.



4_95A0107Photo Credits: Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium/ Images 1,2: PDZA-Ingrid Barrentine / Image 5: PDZA-Kris Sherman /Image 6: PDZA-Brian DalBalcon

The hatchlings are the offspring of 7-year-old mother “Pink” and 7-year-old father “Red.” The Magellanic Penguins at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium are not named but rather are known by the colors of the identification bands on their wings.

“Pink and Red are attentive parents,” said Shaffer, the Zoo’s lead Penguin keeper. “Pink often keeps watch over the burrow while Red broods the chicks, keeping them warm with a special patch on his abdomen that allows them contact with his skin. The father also has exhibited protective behavior and vocalizations”, said Shaffer.

The new little family of four is currently on exhibit in the Penguin Point habitat at the Zoo, but spotting the chicks will take patience. They’re 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.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium now has four male-female pairs of adult Penguins, and all have been sitting on eggs.

Parents incubate the eggs in shifts; they generally hatch between 38 and 42 days after they’re laid.

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