Penguin

Penguin Chicks First Swim At Shedd Aquarium

The four hatchlings tested the waters with their new feathers, important milestone before joining the colony on exhibit

CHICAGO — Shedd Aquarium’s four Magellanic penguin chicks have officially left the nest and reached important milestones before they join the full penguin colony in the Polar Play Zone and are viewable to the public. The chicks recently fledged their fluffy feathers for their juvenile waterproof feathers and had their first introduction to water for their first swim. While penguins don’t get airborne, they do fly through the water, flapping with strong solid wings.

In addition to their first swim, the penguin chicks have been reaching additional developmental milestones, including eating fish, socializing, and exploring new spaces around the aquarium, and more. The chicks are also starting to build relationships with the animal care team.

Regular check-ups with the aquarium’s animal care team show that birds are hitting all their growth targets and a test of biological samples taken from the chicks’ eggshells will help determine their sexes since penguins’ reproductive organs are internal. Once the sex of the birds is determined, the aquarium will share any potential naming plans for the birds and the expected timing for when guests can see the newest arrivals.

Although these four chicks may not be out in the exhibit yet, the public can plan a visit to the aquarium to see the rest of the penguin colony or attend a virtual or onsite penguin encounter to come face-to-face with the birds. The public can also support Shedd’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care by symbolically adopting a penguin to receive a plush, photo of the animal and regular updates on the birds.

BACKGROUND: This spring, Magellanic penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the Polar Play Zone exhibit. This new chick arrived on Saturday, May 29, following hatchlings on Thursday, April 29, Wednesday, May 5, and Wednesday, May 12.

Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium


Mid-Summer Baby Boom Brings Tiny Turtles, Pint-Sized Puffers, Petite Penguin Chick To Tennessee Aquarium

Chattanooga, Tenn. (July 27, 2021) – As any parent knows, kids tend to do whatever you least expect. In the case of an endangered Four-eyed Turtle hatchling at the Tennessee Aquarium, however, merely existing was — in itself — a huge surprise.

A baby Long-spine Porcupinefish swims in a backup facility at the Tennessee Aquarium

On July 11, a volunteer was tending an enclosure in a backup area of the River Journey building. This habitat was only supposed to house an endangered female Four-eyed Turtle (Sacalia quadriocellata), but the volunteer soon discovered that the adult turtle wasn’t alone. Perched atop a layer of vegetation was a tiny hatchling that, by all accounts, shouldn’t even have been there.

The Tennessee Aquarium's four-day-old Gentoo Penguin chick weighs just 253 grams (2)

“The adult female hadn’t been with a male in over a year, so we did not check to see if she had laid this year,” says Bill Hughes, the Aquarium’s herpetology coordinator. “To say the least, finding an egg, let alone a hatchling, was unexpected.”

Tennessee Aquarium Herpetology Coordinator holds a pair of recently hatched Four-eyed Turtles

Hughes says females of some turtle species have been documented to store sperm until conditions favor fertilization. This adaptation may be behind the unexpected hatching, but at the moment, the tiny turtle’s origins remain a mystery.

The baby Four-eyed joins another that hatched on June 10 from an egg husbandry staff were aware of and had been monitoring. The first hatchling emerged from an egg laid on April 15. Both are eating and doing well.

Since 2007, the Aquarium has successfully hatched 47 Four-eyed Turtles, which are so named for the distinctive eye-like markings on the back of their heads. Found only in mountainous streams and ponds in Southeast Asian, this species has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 2000, thanks to over-collection in the wild and habitat loss.

“These turtles fall under a Species Survival Plan that I manage,” says Hughes, who also oversees a program managing the closely related, critically endangered Beal’s Four-eyed Turtle (Sacalia bealei). “Increasing their population is a long-term goal, so every hatchling is a step further in the right direction.”

Visitors to the Aquarium can see adorable examples of Four-eyed and Beal’s Four-eyed Turtles in the hatchling nursery of River Journey’s Turtles of the World gallery.

But tiny turtles aren’t the only recent arrivals at the Aquarium.

On June 24, the Aquarium celebrated the arrival of a Gentoo Penguin chick in the Penguins’ Rock gallery. It began the herculean task of leaving its egg two days earlier on June 22, when animal care specialists first saw its beak and heard its squeaking vocalizations. This fuzzy newcomer is the offspring of  Flower (mom) and Blue (dad), a newly minted pair of veteran parents.

During a routine veterinary checkup the day after it hatched, the chick weighed 132 grams — about 4.5 ounces. After a month of attentive care by its parents and close observation by Aquarium staff, the formerly tiny, peeping ball of fluff now weighs 2.4 kilograms (5.3 pounds), an increase of more than 1,800 percent. If a human child were to grow at the same rate, a newborn weighing seven pounds at birth would tip the scales at 127 pounds four weeks later. 

Size isn’t the only thing that’s bigger about the chick, though, says Loribeth Lee, the Aquarium’s senior aviculturist.

“For the first two weeks, it was pretty mellow, just looking around and studying everything,” Lee says. “Once two weeks hit, though, it developed a strong personality and loves to yell and slap at anything that moves too close!”

At the moment, the chick is still being fed by its parents, but Aquarists plan to begin hand-feeding it solid food in the next two weeks. Visitors to the Aquarium can observe the chick in its nest, which is encircled by clear acrylic panels, for the next six to seven weeks, when it will be old enough to join the rest of the colony. Its gender will remain unknown, pending the results of a routine blood test in November.

To keep tabs on the Aquarium’s Gentoo and Macaroni Penguins, digital visitors can watch a live video feed of the Penguins’ Rock gallery at tnaqua.org/live/penguins-rock/.

Elsewhere in the Ocean Journey building, a trio of juvenile Long-spine Porcupinefish (Diodon holocanthus) are being raised in a culturing facility near the Aquarium’s Secret Reef exhibit.

Despite only being as large as a thumbnail, these two-month-old pufferfish are dead ringers for their round-bodied, spine-covered parents. Under the care of aquarists and a steady diet of brine shrimp, they’re gradually increasing in size like balloons inflating in slow motion.

Once large enough — likely this fall —they’ll be placed on display in the Aquarium’s new larval fish exhibit in the Ocean Journey building.

The fish are the offspring of five adults housed in an off-campus care facility. Eggs collected from this facility were taken to the Aquarium, which has been conducting pioneering work into raising marine fish in-house since early 2017. Eventually, the adults will be brought to Ocean Journey to join the bustling aquatic community of the Secret Reef exhibit.

Whatever their age, there’s no denying the charisma Long-spine Porcupinefish exude, says Senior Aquarist Kyle McPheeters.

“These are definitely one of the cutest fish we work with, especially as babies,” he says. “But even the adults have a really outgoing personality and a very expressive face.”


Little Penguins Treated To Some Very N-Ice Enrichment!

While winter school holidays plans across NSW have been thrown into chaos, a few Marine Keepers from Taronga Zoo Sydney have still taken to time to welcome and celebrate the month of June and spread some much-needed laughter and joy around the zoo. To mark the occasion, Taronga’s waddle of little penguins were treated to some very n-ice enrichment! Kindly donated by Sydney Fish Market, keepers created a mini winter wonderland within the little penguin's exhibit. As little penguins are found natively along the southern coastlines of Australia this isn’t something they would experience in the wild. For never actually seeing snow, keepers explained that the little penguins were quite brave, tapping their little flippers over the ice and investigating their new environment.


Peek Into Penguin Lifecycle During Nesting Season At Shedd Aquarium

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.

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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


Welcome, Marge! National Aviary Announces Name and Gender of Endangered African Penguin Chick

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.

National Aviary_African Penguin Chick_2 Months_Mike Faix

National Aviary_African Penguin Chick_2 Months_Kristen Migliozzi

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 Fluffy Penguin Chick Has Hatched At SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium

A fluffy little chick has hatched in SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium’s Penguin Playground as part of the 9th successful King penguin breeding season!

The chick hatched in the Aquarium’s icy penguin habitat on 2 February weighing 221 grams. The baby was born to long-time couple Ernie and Hudson, who have been taking excellent care of the newest member of their family.

SEA LIFE Melbourne is celebrating the baby’s arrival with ‘The Little King’ activities from 13 – 31 March to help guests learn all about Sub-Antarctic penguin chicks!

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SEA-LIFE-Melbourne-King-Penguin-Chicks-11.03.21-(2)
SEA-LIFE-Melbourne-King-Penguin-Chicks-11.03.21-(2)

To kick off the festivities, SEA LIFE Melbourne needs help naming the new chick! Entrants can submit their suggestion online and the winner will receive a Family Pass to the Aquarium and two ‘The Little King’ showbags.

As well as seeing the penguin chick with their parents in the Penguin Playground, visitors to the Aquarium will receive a storybook and quiz for kids. There will also be live talks at 11am from Thursdays – Mondays and guests will have the option of purchasing a showbag from the retail store or enjoying a meal deal in the café.

Continue reading "A Fluffy Penguin Chick Has Hatched At SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium" »


Two Penguin Chicks Hatch in Indianapolis, One to a Same-sex Pair

The Indianapolis Zoo is excited to welcome the arrival of two adorable Gentoo penguin chicks, hatched just days before Christmas. They’re also celebrating the beautiful differences of their families, because one of the newcomers was born to a same-sex pair — a first for the Zoo! 

Same-sex pairings have also occurred with penguin species in the wild and in other zoos. The two male birds became first-time dads when their chick hatched on Dec. 15. A female that’s actually paired with another penguin laid the egg and left it with the all-male couple, who have been caring for it ever since. Gentoo penguins co-parent their young, and just as a female-male pair would do, the two fathers have taken turns tending the nest, incubating the egg and now feeding the chick.  

Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in
Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in
Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in
Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in
Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in
Gentoo Chick 2 weigh-in

The other chick hatched a week earlier on Dec. 8, to a female-male pair who are also first-time parents. All the adults are doing a great job as caregivers, and while they don’t know the sexes of the two chicks, the young birds are both growing quickly. The first-born chick weighed 99.7 grams at birth and has grown to 2,000 grams (4 pounds, 6 ounces) at its weigh-in today. The second chick has already grown to 1,405 grams (3 pounds, 1 ounce) from its birth weight of 114 grams.   

These are the first two penguin chicks hatched at the Indianapolis Zoo since 2012, and the first for the Gentoo flock since 2011.   


African Penguin Chick Hatched at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach

 

Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach is pleased to introduce you to their newly hatched penguin chick—the first-ever penguin born at Ripley’s Aquarium of Myrtle Beach! Born October 7, 2020, the newest addition turned six weeks old yesterday and is being hand-raised by husbandry staff behind the scenes in the Penguin Nursery.

African penguin chicks can hold themselves upright at about six days old and begin walking at around three weeks. Both milestones were hit—an exciting and healthy sign for the Aquarium’s firstborn! The soon to-be-named chick is still being acclimated and will join the Penguin Playhouse colony in 2021.

 


Penguin Chicks at Shedd Aquarium Are Ready For Your Visit

 

CHICAGO – Shedd Aquarium is announcing the names and sexes of four Magellanic penguin chicks (Spheniscus magellanicus) the aquarium joyfully welcomed following a successful nesting and breeding season in May. These 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). The chicks have joined the full penguin colony at Shedd and can now be seen by guests on exhibit. 

Select donors of the aquarium, who are long-time supporters of the non-profit organization, were given the exclusive opportunity to help choose a name for the penguins:

·         Porter, male – named in honor of the aquarium’s founder John G. Shedd's wife, Mary Porter Shedd, by the Shedd Family

·         Popi, male – named in honor of Pablo “Popi” Garcia Borboroglu, Ph.D., who is the founder and president of the Global Penguin Society, an international science-based conservation coalition dedicated to the survival and protection of the world’s penguin species, chosen by the Christopher Kim family and Museful Co.

·         Sir Elio, male – fondly named by John and Carrie Morgridge and the Morgridge Family Foundation

·         Dee, female – named in honor of Dr. Dee Boersma who is a University of Washington professor of biology and founder and director of the Center for Ecosystem Sentinels, chosen by Shedd Aquarium’s animal care team

Regular check-ups with the animal care team continued to demonstrate that the four birds were hitting all their growth milestones. To determine the sex, since penguins’ reproductive organs are internal, the animal care team took biological samples from the chick’s eggshells and a routine blood test was completed.

After reaching important milestones along the way, including socialization, first swim, eating full fish and more, these birds have also joined the penguin colony in their habitat at the aquarium. Guests who plan a visit to the aquarium can potentially spot the penguin chicks by their slightly lighter grey feathers in the Polar Play Zone. Or visitors from around the world can participate in a virtual penguin encounter to come face-to-face with the penguins and an animal care expert, or symbolically adopt a penguin for regular updates about the birds. 

By purchasing a ticket or participating in a program, you are helping to support the work of the aquarium and offset the financial impacts of COVID-19. For additional ways to support Shedd Aquarium and help fuel its mission, please visit https://www.sheddaquarium.org/about-shedd/support-us.

The aquarium is also encouraging the public to join us in safeguarding aquatic habitats that Magellanic penguins and thousands of other animals call home, by urging elected officials to support the protection of 30% of the world’s natural habitats by 2030. This goal of “30 by 30” secures a better future for wildlife, their habitats and humans.


Penguin chicks! First three to hatch this breeding season

 

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is excited to announce the hatching of three African penguin chicks – the first to hatch during the 2020-2021 breeding season at Penguin Coast. The chicks hatched on September 18th, September 22nd and October 4th.

“It’s amazing to me that we are in our 53rd year working with African penguins. We are always excited to watch the colony grow each year, and happy to announce that three chicks have hatched already this breeding season,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We expect to hatch 10 chicks during this breeding season, but of course that is all dependent on the penguins.” 

            Penguin breeding recommendations are made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).   Breeding season for the African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) at Penguin Coast began in mid-August this year and will last until the end of February. “Right now it is spring in South Africa, when these penguins would normally begin breeding in their colonies,” continued Kottyan. “Although it is fall here, we like to mimic the breeding season so we can monitor the chicks as they hatch and grow during our winter, and then they make their debut as juveniles when temperatures warm up in April.”

Penguin chicks hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid. The Penguin Coast team monitors development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and that the chick is growing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents.

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

            At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, the animal care team and veterinarians keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them every few days to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.  When a chick is three-weeks-old, the team removes it from the nest, and starts to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care. 

            When they first hatch, chicks are about the size of a human palm.  Covered in dark gray downy feathers, the chicks grow fast. They reach their full size, about six pounds, around three months of age. At the same time, their fluffy down is finished being replaced by waterproof feathers.

            While the penguin chicks are not viewable to the public, juvenile and adult penguins can be seen

at Penguin Coast. Penguin Feeding programs are offered twice daily, free with admission, and Penguin Encounters are offered throughout the year for an additional fee.

            The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 50 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the AZA in 1996.  The Zoo has also won a Plume Award from the Avian Scientific Advisory Group (ASAG) recognizing excellence in husbandry and future management of a species or group of similar species. In 2016, Penguin Coast won Top Honors in the AZA Award for Exhibit Design category. Jen Kottyan is a member of the AZA African Penguin SSP Steering Committee, a group of penguin experts from all over North America, which guides and serves as a voting body for official SSP business and decisions that require more discussion.  The members of the Steering Committee are available to all accredited zoos and aquariums which house African penguins to assist them with questions or issues regarding the penguins in their colonies.

            The Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in North America with 104 birds, including the newest hatchlings. Sadly, African penguins are extremely endangered. The 2019 penguin census showed another dramatic decline in South Africa, with approximately 13,500 pairs, a loss of 2,000 pairs from 2018. The global population, which includes Namibia, is now around 18,500 pairs, down from well over 2 million pairs in the 1920s, which is a 99.2% decline over the past 100 years.

The Maryland Zoo also participates in AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program. SAFE programs use the collective expertise within AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to substantially improve the conservation status of species in the wild.  Several Maryland Zoo staff currently serve in leadership or advisory roles in the Penguin SAFE program. Mike McClure, General Curator is Project Coordinator for the SAFE Marine Movement project which monitors marine foraging and movement patterns of African penguins in and around breeding colonies in South Africa. Jess Phillips, Area Manager for Penguin Coast, is the Project Coordinator for the SAFE Disaster Relief program, which has helped governmental and non-governmental organizations in South Africa and Namibia formalize a disaster management plan for the individual penguin colonies in South Africa, as well as providing equipment and identifying training protocols needed to train first responders and volunteers in the event of a disaster such as an oil spill or severe weather which could harm the penguins.

For updates on the chicks in the coming weeks, please visit www.marylandzoo.org or our www.facebook.com/marylandzoo.