Penguin

Cool Chick Hatches at Jacksonville Zoo

PenguinChick1-DeeAnna Murphy

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens is happy to announce that a Magellanic Penguin chick hatched on June 3. The chick marks the second successful hatching at the Zoo since the opening of Tuxedo Coast in 2010. A male named CJ was hatched August of last year and quickly waddled his way into guests’ hearts.

The parents of the new chick are Troy and Victoria who came to JZG in 2010 from the San Francisco Zoo. Although they’ve been a bonded pair for 5 years, this is their first successful hatchling.

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PenguinChick3-DeeAnna MurphyPhoto Credit: DeeAnna Murphy/Pink Pelican Photography

The chick pipped (cracked the shell) on its own, but when there was no progression of the hatching process, keepers decided to intervene and help the little one along. Keepers are hand-rearing the extremely active two-week-old and have described the youngster as a “little jumping bean.”

The chick will be hand-reared by keepers for the next few months and then will be slowly and safely introduced to the rest of the colony of 16 penguins. JZG has past experience in raising a young penguin, as CJ required hand-rearing as well.

The young chick’s sex is not known at this time but will be determined soon through DNA testing. The little one is expected to make its public debut in the next few months.

The Magellanic Penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is native to the southern coasts of South America and is considered a warm-weather penguin. Its nearest relatives are the African, the Humboldt penguin and the Galápagos penguins. This species of penguin was named after Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who spotted the birds in 1520.

Magellanic Penguins are medium-sized penguins, which grow to be 61–76 cm (24–30 in) tall and weigh between 2.7 and 6.5 kg (6.0 and 14.3 lb).

They travel in large flocks when hunting for food. In the breeding season, they gather in large nesting colonies at the coasts of Argentina, southern Chile, and the Falkland Islands, which have a density of 20 nests per 100 m2. Breeding season begins with the arrival of adults at the breeding colonies in September and extends into late February and March when the chicks are mature enough to leave the colonies.

Nests are built under bushes or in burrows. Two eggs are laid, and incubation lasts 39–42 days (a task the parents share in 10–15 day shifts). The chicks are cared for by both parents for 29 days and are fed every two to three days.

The male and female penguins take turns hatching, as they forage far away from their nests. Magellanic Penguins mate with the same partner year after year. The male reclaims his burrow from the previous year and waits to reconnect with his female partner. The females are able to recognize their mates through their call.

They are listed as “Near Threatened” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (JZG) supports SANCCOB, a South African conservation organization whose primary objective is the rescue, rehabilitation and release of seabirds, especially African Penguins. Since 2009, the Zoo has donated funds from penguin-specific events like World Penguin Day and a portion of each admission ticket goes directly to conservation in the wild.


NaturZoo Rheine’s Penguins Go to Kindergarten

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NaturZoo Rheine considers themselves very lucky to be able to announce the hatching and rearing of nine Humboldt Penguin chicks this year.

NaturZoo’s breeding success with this species has been so huge over the past four decades, their Humboldt Penguin’s, known as “made in Rheine”, are spread all over Europe. Care must be given for a balanced distribution of bloodlines.

After brooding for 40 days, all of the eggs from this season have hatched. At an age of approximately six-weeks, the young penguins have now moved from their parents’ den nests to the “kindergarten” or crèche.

When they have successfully completed kindergarten and have molted to the first full plumage, the young Humboldt Penguins will return to the colony or move to another zoo.

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4_p16_qPhoto Credits: NaturZoo Rheine

The Humboldt Penguin (Spheniscus humboldti) (also known as the Chilean Penguin, Peruvian Penguin, or Patranca) is a South American penguin that breeds in coastal Chile and Peru. Its nearest relatives are the African Penguin, the Magellanic Penguin and the Galápagos Penguin. The penguin is named after the cold water current it swims in, which is named after Alexander von Humboldt, an explorer.

Humboldt Penguins are medium-sized, growing to 56–70 cm (22–28 in) long and a weight of 3.6-5.9 kg (8-13 lbs). They have a black head with a white border that runs from behind the eye, around the black ear-coverts and chin, and joins at the throat. They have blackish-grey upper parts and whitish underpants, with a black breast-band that extends down the flanks to the thigh. Juveniles have dark heads and no breast-band. They have spines on their tongue, which they use to hold their prey.

Humboldt’s nest on islands and rocky coasts, burrowing holes in guano and sometimes using scrapes or caves.

Penguins, for the most part, breed in large colonies. Living in colonies results in a high level of social interaction between birds, which has led to a large repertoire of visual as well as vocal displays in all penguin species.

Penguins form monogamous pairs for a breeding season. Most penguins lay two eggs in a clutch. With the exception of the Emperor Penguin, where the male does it all, all penguins share the incubation duties. These incubation shifts can last days, and even weeks, as one member of the pair feeds at sea.

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Gentoo Penguins Hatch at Edinburgh Zoo

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With summer around the corner, the first of the Gentoo Penguin chicks at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have started to poke their beaks out of their shells. The first fluffy chick hatched on May 5 and was soon followed by another three hatchlings, two of which are on the same nest.

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4_16_05_06_GentooPenguin_Chick_08_CR_KatiePatonPhoto Credits: Edinburgh Zoo / Maria Dorrian (Images: 1,6,7,8) & Katie Paton (Images: 2,3,4,5)

 

Penguin breeding season began in early March, with the annual placing of the nest rings and pebbles into Penguins Rock, before the male penguins sought out the best looking and smoothest pebbles to ‘propose’ to their potential mates. The first eggs were laid over Easter weekend, and, after a 33-35 day incubation period, the chicks of 2016 have started to hatch!

Dawn Nicoll, Penguin Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said, “This is our favourite time of year as the new Penguin chicks begin to hatch. The entire breeding season is an incredibly busy time, but it is all worth it when you see the tiny Penguins start to break out of their shells and be cared for by both their parents.

“The rest of the eggs should hatch over the next two to three weeks, as the Penguins don’t all lay their eggs at the same time. We had a very successful breeding season last year, with 16 chicks hatching, so we are hoping for another successful year as Gentoo Penguins are classified as near threatened.”

Once the chicks get a little older, they will leave the nest and join a nearby crèche, where they will learn all the skills essential to being a penguin, such as how to swim and feed.

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Eggcellent News: Four Penguins Hatch at Chester Zoo

Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (8)
Four fuzzy Penguin chicks named Wotsit, Quaver, Frazzle, and Cheeto have become the first of their kind to hatch at the Chester Zoo this year.

The tiny Humboldt Penguin chicks, which hatched between March 27 and April 5 to four different sets of parents, were named after their keepers’ favorite snacks.

Quaver the Humboldt penguin chick is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (3)
Penguin chick Wotsit is weighed by keepers at Chester Zoo (4)Photo Credit:  Chester Zoo
 
Staff at the zoo use a different naming theme each year to help them to keep track of the new chicks, with popular potato snacks getting the nod this year. Previous topics have included British Olympic athletes and chocolate bars.  

Both Penguin parents help rear their young, including regurgitating fish for the chicks to eat. To keep the adults and babies well-nourished, the adults get extra servings of fish each day.  Keepers weigh the little chicks daily to make sure they are gaining weight.

So far, the chicks are thriving – keepers expect them to triple in size and weight in the first month. 

Humboldt Penguins live on the coasts of Peru and Chile, and are listed as Vulnerable to Extinction on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species.  Of the world’s 17 Penguin species, they are now among the most at risk.  Humboldt Penguins are threatened by climate change, rising acidity levels in the ocean and over-fishing – all of which force them to search further from their nests for fish.

See more photos of the chicks below.

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Penguin Chick Gets Hatching Help

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 6 Sometimes baby animals need a little help, and that’s exactly what an about-to-hatch African Penguin received at Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw on December 28.

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Pingwin przyl_dkowy 5Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

The Penguin chick, named Janush by keepers, was positioned abnormally inside his egg.  With his head underneath his wing, Janush was unable to turn and push his way out of the egg.  To assist the little chick, keepers removed the egg from the nest and gently extricated Janush from the shell.

Once they knew the tiny chick was stable, keepers tried to place Janush back in the nest with his parents.  Unfortunately, mom and dad were tending another chick that had hatched earlier in the day.  Penguin parents can be quite aggressive when defending their chicks, and keepers were unable to place Janush back in the nest. 

So, keepers took over as Janush’s parents during the first critical days of his life.  Because the chick was still absorbing nutrients from his yolk sac, there was no need to feed him right away, but controlling the temperature was important.  Janush moved to a well-ventilated incubator where he could stay warm.

The next day, keepers began feeding Janush a “milk shake” made from chopped fish and vitamins via a syringe.  Fortunately Janush has a good appetite and doubled his weight in the first week.  He feeds four times a day, and at night he snuggles beside a plush toy in his incubator.  In the morning Janush greets his keepers with loud squeaks to let them know he’s hungry.

In the wild, African Penguins are native to South Africa’s coast and nearby islands.  Because people have harvested so many fish from these waters, there is little left to sustain the Penguin population and the species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Oil spills have affected the population, and guano mining disturbs nesting sites.  Breeding programs in zoos around the world are an important part of efforts to save African Penguins.


Minnesota’s Penguin Chicks Are Put on the Scale

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Three African Penguin chicks have hatched, so far this season, at the Minnesota Zoo.

When the eggs first hatch, keepers at the Minnesota Zoo weigh the chicks to ensure the parents are feeding them properly. The three chicks that hatched in December are steadily gaining weight—a testimony to the good parenting they are receiving!

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4_12496079_10153807986428788_1417004124455515403_oPhoto Credits: Minnesota Zoo

The African Penguin (Spheniscus demersus) is a species confined to southern African waters. It is widely known as the “jackass” penguin for its donkey-like bray.

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, 4.9 to 7.7 lbs (2.2 to 3.5 kg) and are 24 to 28 inches (60 to 70 cm) tall. It has distinctive pink patches of skin above the eyes and a black facial mask; the body upper parts are black and sharply delineated from the white under parts, which are spotted and marked with a black band. The pink gland above the eyes helps the penguins to cope with changing temperatures. The African Penguin is a pursuit diver and feeds primarily on fish and squid.

They are monogamous and breed in colonies, returning to the same site each year. The African Penguin has an extended breeding season, with nesting usually peaking from March to May, in South Africa, and November and December in Namibia. A clutch of two eggs is laid either in burrows dug in guano, or scrapes in the sand under boulders or brush. Both parents undertake incubation equally for about 40 days. At least one parent guards the chicks until about 30 days. After that, the chick joins the crèche with other chicks, and both parents head out to sea to forage. Chicks fledge at 60 to 130 days and go to sea, on their own.

Once extremely numerous, the African Penguin is declining due to a combination of threats and is currently classified as “Endangered” on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Population declines are, according to the IUCN, largely attributed to: food shortages (resulting from large catches of fish by commercial purse-seine fisheries) and environmental fluctuations.


‘Everybody Into the Pool!’ at the Maryland Zoo

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The African Penguin chick siblings, at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, are shedding their fluffy down feathers and growing their grey and white juvenile plumage.

Juvenile feathers are water resistant, so now there’s lots of swim practice for the brother and sister.

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4_Penguin Chicks swim practicesPhoto Credits: The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore happily announced the arrival of the two African penguin chicks back in November, and ZooBorns shared news of the birth, as well. They were the first chicks to hatch during the 2015-2016 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks’ parents are Mega and Rossi. The male hatched on November 5 and the female on November 9.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African Penguins for over 40 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1996.  

The Zoo has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing in Penguin Coast, along with six special penguins that are used as “Animal Ambassadors” and live in the Penguin Encounters building at the exhibit.

“Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Jen Kottyan, Avian Collection and Conservation Manager. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

Penguin chicks hatch approximately 38 to 42 days after the egg is laid. Zookeepers, at the Maryland Zoo, monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents.

“With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, the two chicks stayed with their parents for about three weeks and were fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zookeepers and veterinarians kept a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents were properly caring for each chick.

At three-weeks-old, the keepers began hand rearing the chicks to start to teach them that keepers are a source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction. “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

The siblings are now starting to lose their downy feathers, and the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile penguins from the adults now covers them. They are learning how to swim and will now be slowly introduced to the rest of the penguin colony.

You can follow their growth and development on the Zoo’s website (www.marylandzoo.org) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/marylandzoo).


Chick It Out: Penguins Hatch At Maryland Zoo

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The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced the arrival of the first two chicks of the 2015-2016 African Penguin breeding season.

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12239281_10150584014964987_6213476884560133968_oPhoto Credit:  Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

The chicks hatched on November 5 and November 9 to experienced parents Mega and Rossi. “Breeding season started in September with many of our penguins developing and defending their respective nests,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We are very excited to see these first two hatch and thrive under these proven Penguin parents.” The chicks, each weighing less than ¾ pound, are nesting comfortably with their parents.

Penguin chicks hatch 38 to 42 days after the eggs are laid. Zoo keepers monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents. “With African Penguins, both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick or chicks warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

After hatching, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks and are fed regurgitated fish from both of their parents. During this time, zoo keepers and veterinarians keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.  When a chick is three weeks old, the keepers begin hand rearing the chick to start to teach it that keepers are their source of food and to acclimate them to human interaction.  “Over the years we have found that beginning the hand- rearing process at three weeks gives the chicks a great head start with their development,” continued Kottyan. “They will still retain the natural instincts of a wild penguin, while allowing us to properly care for them.”

When the chicks are between six and eight weeks old, they lose their downy feathers and become covered in the grey plumage that distinguishes juvenile Penguins from the adults. At this time, they begin to learn how to swim and will then be slowly introduced to the rest of the Penguin colony.

The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 40 years and  has the largest colony of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing at the zoo. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Kottyan. “Many of the African Penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”

African Penguins are native to the coast of southern Africa.  They are listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  The wild population has decreased by 90% in the last 100 years.  At one time, these birds’ eggs were over-collected and their nest sites were disturbed due to mining for guano (accumulated seabird droppings).  Today, oil spills and over fishing are the main threats.


Penguin Chick's Name May Stick Like Glue

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A Black-footed Penguin chick hatched at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas was named for the glue used to repair its shell, which cracked during incubation.

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Photo Credit:  Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
 

Elmer, as keepers are temporarily calling the chick, hatched on August 31 and was reared by zoo keepers behind the scenes – a routine practice that allows the Penguins to become accustomed to daily hand feedings. 

Elmer’s name may not stick, though, because keepers don’t know yet if the chick is male or female.  They’ll determine its gender in a few months. 

Though less than months old, Elmer has grown rapidly, as all Penguins do.  Elmer’s downy feathers will soon begin to fall out in a process called molting, and they’ll be replaced by the sleek gray feathers of a juvenile Black-footed Penguin.  Until those feathers come in and Elmer is able to swim, the young Penguin is segregated from the rest of the flock and most importantly, the exhibit pool. For now, Elmer can see the Penguin flock through a Plexiglas partition.

To maximize genetic diversity among zoo-dwelling birds, Black-footed Penguins are managed by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Species Survival Plan.  Elmer is the second chick for parents Millicent and Puddles.  

Native to southern Africa, Black-footed Penguins are listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Populations have decreased dramatically in the last decades as Penguins' prey has been reduced by overfishing, and oil spills have killed thousands of birds.

See more photos of Elmer below.

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Gentoo Penguin Chicks Hatch at Tennessee Aquarium

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Three baby Gentoo Penguins are warming the hearts of Tennessee Aquarium guests this summer. Like the Macaroni Penguin, which was the first to hatch at the Aquarium in 2015, this trio has made remarkable progress since they first arrived at the end of June.

Two of the chicks are actually siblings, but are being raised by different penguin mothers. “When Bug and Big T’s first egg hatched, they were having a tough time keeping both the second egg and the chick underneath them,” said senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee. “Biscuit and Blue did not have a viable egg this year, so we were able to move the second egg into their nest. It hatched a couple of days later and they have done a beautiful job caring for their adopted chick.”

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This is the first time a baby penguin has been raised at the Aquarium by surrogate parents. In the past, aviculturists have supplemented feedings for any chicks that were not receiving enough nourishment from their parents. “We always prefer to let the parents raise their chicks, but we’ll intervene whenever necessary,” said Lee. “Since Biscuit and Blue have been diligent parents in the past, we believed they would do a great job caring for Bug and Big T’s chick and they have.”

In addition to their rapid growth, the three newest Gentoos are now showing their individuality. The experts caring for them say these penguins have personalities that range from passive to positively pecky. “The chick in Biscuit and Blue’s nest acts pretty mellow, preferring to hide its head under mom or dad,” said Lee. “Bug and Big T’s other chick is pretty perky and active, but nothing like Nipper’s chick. He acts feisty just like his father and loves to bite and squawk a lot.”

These traits will be interesting for Aquarium guests to watch over time. Lee and the other experts spend quite a bit of time pointing out the chicks and talking about their lives during penguin programs, which take place at 10:30am and 1:30pm each day.

The gender of the penguin chicks will be determined later this fall when every bird in the colony undergoes a thorough physical examination. A blood sample will be collected from the juvenile birds that will be sent to a lab for DNA testing to determine whether the new additions are male or female. A naming contest on the Aquarium’s Facebook page will begin after the genders are announced.

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