Posts Tagged ‘penguin chicks’

Penguin Chicks Graduate From Fish School

August 4, 2015

That Penguin Post has learned that this past weekend the San Francisco Zoo celebrated along with their proud Magellanic penguin chicks Erin and Steve as they graduated from Fish School and joined the penguin colony. The chicks, born in mid-May, had to learn how to swim and accept hand feeding before they could move in with the adults.  At two-and-a-half months old, the chicks are mature enough to live with the rest of the colony.

898831_630x354To commemorate the official entry of the chicks, zoo officials held a March of the Penguins at 10 a.m. Animal handlers led the chicks on a procession around Penguin Island, to their final destination where they could dive into the water and join the colony.

Several hundred people visited the zoo to observe the proceedings and participate in the festivities. The SF zoo offered face-painting, craft projects and “Sustainable Seafood Games” for families.

The SF Zoo, according to their official website, “maintains the largest and most successful breeding colony of Magellanic penguins in captivity, having fledged approximately 205 chicks since 1985, and participating in a nationally-coordinated Population Management Plan (sponsored by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums).”

No precise date has been scheduled for the next March of the Penguins, and until then the public can watch Erin and Steve grow up among their fellow penguins.


Very Cute Gentoo Penguin Chicks in Edinburgh

July 17, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that a number of adorable Gentoo penguin chicks have hatched at Edinburgh Zoo, after a successful breeding season. In all sixteen chicks were born, with the first hatching on May 4.


Gentoo penguins are mostly found on a number of sub-Antarctic islands, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Kerguelen Islands. Smaller colonies are known to live on Macquarie Island, the Heard Islands, South Shetland Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula.


The penguins form breeding colonies each year, with each couple making a nest out of stones, grass and moss. Female Gentoo penguins will tend to lay up to two eggs, which both the male and female will incubate for between 30 – 40 days. The Gentoo chicks fledge around 85 – 117 days after hatching, but continue to be fed by their parents for another four weeks. Edinburgh Zoo is currently home to more than 70 Gentoo penguins, and are described by their keepers as ‘active and curious’, with ‘exuberant personalities’.  We agree 100%!


Penguin Summer Camp Is Open

July 8, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that a Summer camp for penguin chicks has opened in of all places, Wales in the United Kingdom.  Summer camp might be in full swing for children all over the world, but for another set of waddling youngsters, a very unique camp has started to the delight of people and penguins alike.

Cogsworth and Thumper are in a flap about starting school.

Cogsworth and Thumper are in a flap about starting school.

The first two penguin chicks at the Folly Farm Zoo in Wales have fledged from the nest and been taken into a special penguin nursery enclosure where they will learn many key penguin survival skills and have lots of fun at the same time. All five penguin chicks at the zoo have been named after Disney characters – Cogsworth, Bagheera, Abu, Scuttle and Thumper.

Eventually the penguin chicks will re-join their families in the main enclosure

Eventually the penguin chicks will re-join their families in the main enclosure

After a few months at Penguin Camp they will graduate back into the zoo’s penguin community.  In the wild, half of all penguin chicks won’t survive by themselves. As they are African Penguins and an endangered species, Folly Farm is one of many zoos that takes the young orphaned penguins into a nursery enclosure until their waterproof feathers are fully grown, and they have learned to eat independently.

Abu the penguin will learn the 'bare necessities' at school

Abu the penguin will learn the ‘bare necessities’ at school

Folly Farm currently has 35 penguins, including the five new penguin chicks. The eldest penguin, at 22 years of age, is Holly, closely followed by her partner of some 20 years, Harry. Penguin life expectancy is around 22 in the wild and 30 in captivity.

New Penguins Hatching In Scotland

May 8, 2015

The Penguin Post has learned that  the Edinburgh Zoo is welcoming its first furry Gentoo penguins of the season, which were born this week. The first chick made its arrival on Monday, with the second breaking out of his shell yesterday. Another egg has already started to crack and is expected to hatch shortly, followed by the hatching of several other chicks over the next couple of weeks.

1430997278-a12cfa069ffa71656b7ba0a342cdb7a3-1038x576Edinburgh Zoo are over the moon about its new arrivals despite the hectic schedule the penguin breeding season brings. “We are really happy that the first of the gentoo penguin eggs have hatched,” senior penguin keeper Dawn Nicoll said. “Penguin breeding season is always a really busy time for us, right from the moment we put the nesting rings into the enclosure, through the incubation period, to the hatching, rearing and, eventually, the fledging of the chicks.

1430999181-c4a322abb4195eafdeabdd9307630ff3-1366x910“It is always incredibly rewarding when the eggs start hatching and we finally get to see the penguin chicks. “The majority of them will hatch over the next two to three weeks as the penguins will not all lay at exactly the same time. Fingers crossed we will have quite a few chicks keeping us busy this season.” The breeding season at Penguins Rock kicked off in March as the penguins all began to squabble and flipper-slap each other as they competed for the best breeding grounds. The first eggs were laid at the beginning in April just in time for Easter and the penguins have now produced 40 eggs so far.

African Penguin Chicks Get A Helping Hand

October 25, 2014

Abandoned African penguin chicks are easy to spot. Their flippers are too long for their bodies. Their chest bones are visible through their newborn plumage. They haven’t been fed by their parents for weeks because the adult birds are molting and unable to hunt in the ocean.

While adult penguins can survive 21 days without food, baby chicks cannot. Under normal conditions, the chicks would be out of their nests and able to survive the fast. But sparse fish populations around the South African shore limit chick’s growth and keep them nesting when adults reach the critical point when they must molt.

Group of African Penguins near Boulders Beach, South Africa.

Group of African Penguins near Boulders Beach, South Africa.

In response, researchers from the University of Cape Town head-reared hundreds of malnourished chicks from penguin colonies Dyer Island, Robben Island and Stony Point at the South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds in Cape Town. The researchers admitted over 800 penguins in 2006 and nearly 500 in 2007.

“Often, the abandoned chicks we’re bringing up look quite sad for themselves,” lead researcher Richard Sherley said.

Most of the chicks were underweight for their age; researchers fed them a formula of liquidized fish and vitamins.

The penguins were marked with flipped bands then released back into the wild after an average month and a half of human care. The hand-raised chicks were just as likely to survive as their naturally-raised counterparts.

This success is promising for other seabird species facing dwindling populations. So long as the birds don’t attach to their surrogate human parents and can cope with living in captivity, humans raising baby birds could be a solution.

African penguin populations have shrunk by more than 70 percent since 2011, and the species has been classified as endangered since 2012.

Map of Western Cape, South Africa. Black circles depict the location of main African penguin breeding colonies. Chart by Richard B. Sherley, Lauren J. Waller, Venessa Strauss, Deon Geldenhuys, Les G. Underhill and Nola J. Parsons.

Map of Western Cape, South Africa. Black circles depict the location of main African penguin breeding colonies. Chart by Richard B. Sherley, Lauren J. Waller, Venessa Strauss, Deon Geldenhuys, Les G. Underhill and Nola J. Parsons.

“Hand-rearing of African penguin chicks is a valuable conservation tool in light of the declining population,” the researchers conclude in the full study, “Hand-Rearing, Release and Survival of African Penguin Chicks Abandoned Before Independence by Moulting Parents,” which was published Tuesday.

In the South African ecosystem, the baby penguins’ problems can be traced back to fish populations. Sardines and anchovies are African penguins’ main food source. Between rising sea temperatures and overfishing, especially of sardines, there aren’t as many fish to feast on as there were in previous decades.

Less fish means smaller or less frequent meals for the fledgling penguins. As a result, the baby birds are growing slower and are still chicks when their parents begin to molt. Unlike some birds, who shed a few feathers at a time, penguins must replace all their feathers at once. Since they don’t have waterproof feathers while molting, they stay on land and don’t hunt for the entire process.

Hand-rearing the chicks could help conserve the species in the short term, but the current colonies can only support so many penguins.

“We’re putting them back out into the colonies from where they came,” he said. “We’re trying to slow down the decline of colonies that are disappearing very rapidly.”

Sherley is curious how the human-raised penguins would fare if they were released as pioneers of new colonies on different parts of the South African shore.

The South African government is also experimenting with fishing regulations. The now-defunct South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism closed fishing around two pairs of islands. The penguin chicks around St. Croix and Bird islands were , and the area will soon be off-limits for fishing permanently. However, data for Robben and Dassen Island were inconclusive, and there is ongoing debate about whether to allow or halt fishing around the second pair of islands.

New Penguins In New England.

July 17, 2014

The five newest penguin chicks at the New England Aquarium have a big job to do — aside from being incredibly adorable.

The Penguin Post has learned that three Little Blue and two African penguin chicks will serve as liaisons for their cousins in the wild and will increase the diversity of their species’s captive population’s gene pool.

Little Blue penguins originate from the southern coastlines of Australia and New Zealand and the African penguins inhabit land along the southern coast of Africa. Little Blues are the smallest species of penguin and have sleek, steel blue feathers. African penguins have yellow stripes on their foreheads in adulthood. feathers when they hatch. The New England Aquarium is one of the only institutions in the United States that has Little Blues, something that Heather Urquhart, penguin exhibit manager for the aquarium, hopes to change.

“There is a lot of interest in getting more of these little guys in zoos and aquariums here,” Urquhart said. “We are working with the Aussies to get more little birds to some other cities.”

The chicks have joined the ranks of only 64 Little Blues in United States zoos and aquariums — 29 of which are housed in the New England Aquarium. The sustainability of such a small population is a big concern, especially with regard to gene diversity and potential growth.

“These birds are teaching zoo- and aquarium-goers about their wild brethren and we want them to be as healthy as possible,” Urquhart said. “We want to not only have a healthy and diverse population in our own aquarium, but for the populations in zoos and aquariums everywhere.”

Urquhart is currently working closely with the Bronx Zoo in New York and the Taronga Zoo in Australia to bring more Little Blues stateside within the next few months.

The African penguins’ captive population is very strong, with about 800 birds living throughout the country, said Urquhart. Their wild counterparts, however, are facing serious challenges caused by climate change.

Dan Laughlin, assistant curator at the New England Aquarium, said the endangered African penguins are seeing a mass exodus of their food source — primarily pilchards and anchovies — because of changing water temperatures in their native areas. Eleven of the 18 species of penguins are endangered.

The 12- and 13-day-old African penguin chicks will join their 41-member colony at around 60 days old. Another African egg is due to hatch in mid-August. Laughlin said all penguin chicks must undergo a few private swimming lessons and weaning from their parents before joining the 85-bird colony at the aquarium. He added that he loves this time of year, and not just because of the chicks’ fuzzy cuteness.

“I love the smell of baby penguins,” he said. “It’s the best smell in the world.”

Little Blue Penguins at New England Aquarium

Little Blue Penguins at New England Aquarium

King Penguin Chicks Have Built In GPS

June 26, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that displaced King penguin chicks navigate well in pairs as they find their way back to base in their colony, according to a new study. King penguin chicks gather together in “creches” as they wait for parents to return with food, and if a chick gets moved to a different place in the colony it is important to get back so that the parents can find it, says researcher Anna Nesterova from the University of Oxford in England. “King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more almost a mile on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individual penguins still know how to find their place within such colonies,” she says.


‘King penguin colonies are very crowded and can stretch for more than 1km on the relatively flat and featureless beaches, yet individuals know how to find their place within such colonies’

Nesterova and colleagues tracked 31 pairs of chicks that were artificially separated from their creches as they made their way back to the correct part of the Ratmanoff colony on the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean about midway between Australia, South Africa and Antarctica.

Kerguelen_MapThe chicks navigated well in pairs, and even took turns leading in some cases. Also, pairs from the same creche arrived closer to their original location than pairs where the individual chicks were from different creches. The study, which was funded by the Institut Polaire Français and Marie Curie Actions and published in Animal Behaviour, will help us to better understand group navigation in animals, according to Nesterova, who was surprised at how quickly the chicks from different creches split up along their path back. “The chicks like to be in a group, but going towards the right destination seems to be more important,” she says. “It makes sense: if you do not know where your partner is heading, it is better not to take the risk and end up at the wrong end of the colony.”

Fuzzy King Penguin Hatchlings = Cute!

May 29, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that a pair of fuzzy, baseball-sized king penguins have hatched at the Newport Aquarium near Cincinnati, and parents and chicks are healthy and happy, biologists report.  The aquarium announced the news Thursday morning after observing the chicks and their interaction with their parents since Saturday morning. The two are the fifth and sixth penguins born at the aquarium since it opened 15 years ago.  The chicks, which aren’t siblings, started to pip – or chip away –at their eggs Friday evening and poked out and fully hatched Saturday morning. “These were some of the biggest king penguin chicks I’ve ever seen,” said Dan Clady, Newport Aquarium biologist, in a statement. Clady manages the animal care at the cold penguin exhibit.

Baby King Chick gets a once over

Baby King Chick gets a cleaning

Foster parents are taking care of one of the chicks, because its parents weren’t particularly good at caring for their egg after it was laid. The parents’ main job is to keep their egg – and then, their chick – warm and safe by keeping it on their feet and tucked under their bellies. “We prefer the parents to raise the chicks on their own and they’ve taken those responsibilities seriously,” Clady said. The chicks share an April 4 egg-laying date, said Jeff Geiser, spokesman for the aquarium.

One of the fuzzy King babies

One of the fuzzy King baby penguins

King penguins Valentine (the foster mom) and Bubba (foster dad), cared for the egg and are taking good care of the chick, Geiser said. The biological parents of this chick are Dumas (mom) and Kroger (dad). The other chick is a third-generation king penguin hatched at the Newport Aquarium. Its parents are Wednesday (mom) and Bebe (dad). Wednesday is the last chick that hatched at the Newport Aquarium, in 2010, Geiser said. The simultaneous hatching of two unrelated king penguins is a rarity, Geiser said. Over the last 10 years at Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions in the United States, there have been an average of only 14 king penguin simultaneous hatchings annually.

Interesting way for a baby King penguin to get weighed

Interesting way for a baby King penguin to get weighed

The Newport chicks were in the Kroger Penguin Palooza exhibit when they hatched. Newport Aquarium is one of 16 institutions in the United States to exhibit king penguins. Kroger Penguin Palooza has nine adult king penguins, as well as chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and rockhopper penguins. A sixth penguin species, the African black-footed penguin, is also on exhibit at Newport Aquarium in the Penguin House.

Domestic Humboldt Penguins Flourishing

May 14, 2014

 kfi9flr42bfgfbotdkgqkg74ocb7ky8The Humboldt penguin population in North American zoos accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is increasing thanks to efforts by animal care staff at the Chicago Zoological Society’s Brookfield Zoo, Columbus Zoo and Milwaukee County Zoo, and more importantly, by some foster penguin parents.

Brookfield Zoo agreed to take two Humboldt penguin eggs — one that has hatched and one that has yet to hatch — from Columbus Zoo and Milwaukee County Zoo, respectively.
In early January, a penguin at Columbus Zoo laid an egg. However, during the Arctic blast that swept through Ohio, the penguin and her mate had difficulties incubating it. The coordinator of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan recommended that it was in the best interest of the overall zoo population to transfer the egg to Brookfield Zoo, so that a foster pair could continue the incubation process and rear the chick. (The pair at Columbus Zoo subsequently bred again and was successful in incubating a second clutch.)

At Brookfield Zoo, Salsa and Ceviche, 10-year-old Humboldt penguins who have successfully raised chicks in the past, were in the process of incubating an egg, but it was infertile. To alleviate unnecessary stress on Salsa, staff allowed her to complete the natural incubation cycle but pulled the infertile egg from the nestbox and replaced it with a fake egg. When the egg from Columbus Zoo arrived, the fake egg was removed and replaced with the new fertile egg. Ceviche and Salsa successfully incubated the egg.
On Feb. 20, a male chick hatched, and he is progressing very well due to attentive care from his foster parents.

Guests visiting Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast exhibit may be able to see the Columbus Zoo chick as he peeks out from the nestbox. He is distinguishable from the adults by his dark gray plumage, which will eventually molt into to a lighter gray and white color.

When he is about 70 days old, the chick will leave the nest permanently.

At Milwaukee County Zoo, a penguin pair is currently incubating two eggs. Humboldt penguins rarely are successful at raising two chicks simultaneously. To increase the chance of both chicks surviving, one will be raised by its parents at Milwaukee, and the other will be raised by foster parents at Brookfield Zoo. A transfer date for the egg is still being determined.

“We work closely with other institutions to breed and maintain healthy, self-sustaining populations that are both genetically diverse and demographically stable for a variety of species, including Humboldt penguins,” said Tim Snyder, curator of birds for the Society. “These particular penguin pairs at Columbus Zoo and Milwaukee County Zoo are not well represented in the overall accredited North American zoo population, and so we are excited to assist in the long-term viability of the population.”

Native to the coasts of Peru and Chile in South America, Humboldt penguins are considered one of the world’s most endangered penguin species and are listed as vulnerable by IUCN-The World Conservation Union.  Humboldt penguin population numbers once totaled an estimated hundreds of thousands of animals during the 1800s but are now estimated to be less than 50,000. One of the causes of their decline is over-harvesting of guano, their preferred nesting habitat. More recent threats to the survival of this species involve overfishing of their prey, entanglement in fishing nets, fishing with dynamite, hunting, predation from introduced species, and human disturbance. Significant conservation efforts have been directed toward stabilizing the population.

To help in the conservation effort, Michael Adkesson, DVM, Dipl. ACZM, vice president of clinical medicine for the Chicago Zoological Society, travels annually to Punta San Juan in Peru to continue a comprehensive population health assessment project that began in 2007. The data collected help define the current health of the population and provide a baseline for continued monitoring of population health over time.


Mystic Penguins Get Their Feathers Wet

April 23, 2014

The Penguin Post has learned that three African penguin chicks, all hatched in January of this year, took their first swim yesterday after 13 weeks of huddling under their parents for warmth and nurturing. The penguin parents take turns attending to their babies and are very protective.

 Mystic Aquarium’s newest additions took to the water on Tuesday.

Mystic Aquarium’s newest additions took to the water on Tuesday.

Once the penguins are 50 days old, they are removed from their nests and taught how to hand feed four times a day. By the end of the month, the aquarium’s new full grown penguins will be showing off their weatherproof dark grey feathers. Trainers at Mystic Aquarium form a unique bond with the young chicks in an effort to establish trust. Trainers also introduce the chicks to a small spray of water to get them ready for their first swim. All of the baby penguins will be given wing identification beads – one to signify birth order and another to represent gender.  Since 1997, Mystic Aquarium has participated in the African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), where they have hatched 19 chicks as part of the program.