Adventure aquarium baby boom becomes month-long affair with latest additions
Adventure Aquarium officially announced the hatching of four African penguins, bolstering an already booming colony at Penguin Island. The new additions hatched in two clutches just weeks apart from each other in December, 2016.
The first clutch hatched on December 10 and 14, respectively, to African penguin parents Minnie and Kamikaze. The second clutch arrived later in the month to parents Jack and Diane on December 23 and 26, respectively. The chicks’ genders were initially determined during early tests using DNA collected from inside their egg shells which all resulted in female. Blood tests will be conducted when the penguins are older to confirm these results.
The Aquarium participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s (AZA’s) African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work in concert to help ensure the survival of African penguins through a scientifically-controlled breeding program. Since it began working with the program in 1998, the Aquarium has successfully bred and raised 26 African penguin chicks.
“We’re thrilled to welcome four healthy African penguin chicks to Adventure Aquarium,” said Michele Pagel, Curator, Birds & Mammals, who has overseen the African penguin population since 1998. “They are very vocal, growing strong and have great appetites! Our staff has been busy caring for the new additions since we started hand raising the first set of chicks on January 5 and the second clutch on January 16, respectively.”
In order for the penguin chicks to learn how to acclimate with the colony at the Aquarium, staff must take over caring for them when they are able to eat small but whole fish and are more physically developed and mobile. The birds need to learn how to eat from human hands, associate fish with the feed bucket and learn to be social with the keepers, which are all important steps to becoming part of the group.
The young penguins are doing well and growing fast. In just a few months, the chicks will be the size of fully grown African penguins. When the chicks first hatched just weeks ago they weighed less than two ounces each, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball, but have each grown to weigh approximately 2.7, 3.4, 4 and 4.6 pounds, respectively. The chicks eat small whole fish just like the adult birds including silversides, smelt, anchovies, trout and capelin. Young penguins usually eat more than some of the adults at about 15-20 fish per day.
The four chicks will remain behind the scenes to allow them time to grow larger in size as well as develop their waterproof plumage before eventually being introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit. Adventure Aquarium visitors will have the opportunity to see the chicks in the coming weeks. Staff will bring one of the chicks out from the back of house area following African penguin feeds, dependent on weather.
All four African penguin chicks will make their official debut during a media event to be held at Adventure Aquarium’s Currents Ballroom next Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 10:30am. In addition, the names given to them by the Aquarium’s Bird and Mammal team members will be announced at that time. A media alert with more details will be distributed.
Guests and visitors are encouraged to follow the Aquarium’s social media accounts to stay up-to-date on animal birth announcements as well as events and happenings.