Adorable Penguin Chick Takes The Plunge In Texas

After pacing along the fence of her holding area for weeks, Marina The Penguin finally proved to her Dallas Zoo keepers Tuesday that she was ready to take her first plunge.  The 3-month-old African black-footed penguin had recently lost all of her gray downy feathers, signaling she was ready to swim.

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With only a little stage fright at the beginning, Marina dived into the water and was later joined by parents Tazo and Tulip. Also in the pool were two zoo employees to ensure the chick’s safety. “This was her first swim lesson,” said Sprina Liu, curator of birds. “It was a big deal for us to make sure she came out just fine. She was perfect.”

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Her hatching was part of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan, one of the 450 survival plan programs managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The penguin exhibit opened in 2006, but this was the first year the association gave the zoo the OK to breed the birds.

“This was our first penguin chick,” Liu said, “and it was a big deal for us.” Marina’s zookeepers are staying in contact with the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., as well as other facilities to ensure they are raising her correctly. African penguins are an endangered species typically found in South Africa. They have experienced a 90 percent decline in population since the early 1900s, and only 50,000 African penguins remain waddling in the wild, according to the zoo. The Dallas Zoo hopes to breed more penguins in the years to come, but that depends on the genetics of parent penguins and the amount of enclosure space, Liu said.

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