The Monterey Bay Aquarium is proud to announce the recent hatching of an African blackfooted penguin chick. The chick is now being cared for by its foster parents on exhibit in the “Splash Zone” family gallery.
The young chick, whose gender is unknown, hatched the morning of August 15 in an incubator behind the scenes. During an exam today, the chick weighed 8.5 ounces (245 grams), more than three times the 2.3 ounces (67 grams) it weighed after hatching – a great sign that it’s eating well.
The chick is doing very well, said Aimee Greenebaum, associate curator of aviculture. “We’re very excited to welcome our fourth-ever penguin chick,” she said. “It’s fun to have a youngster around again.”
But Greenebaum cautions that despite excellent parental and veterinary care, blackfooted penguin chicks have a high rate of mortality.
This is the fourth chick hatched in the penguin colony at the aquarium. Of three birds that hatched in January 2011, two males, Pebble and Tola, survived and are both doing well at Dallas World Aquarium.
Greenebaum said experienced foster parents Walvis and Boulders are raising the chick – they also raised the aquarium’s third (Tola) chick successfully – because genetic parents Bee and Geyser are inexperienced at parenting.
The chick will remain with Walvis and Boulders for about three weeks or until it starts leaving its nest. At that time, the family will be moved behind the scenes for the chick’s safety; it can’t be left on exhibit because it could accidentally drown or be injured by adult penguins in the exhibit. It will eventually receive a name, and the chick (and parents) will rejoin the colony on exhibit about three months later. After one to two years, the chick may stay in Splash Zone or move to another zoo or aquarium.
All of the birds are part of a Species Survival Plan for threatened African blackfooted penguins. The plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, identified penguins Bee and Geyser as genetically important to the captive population of this species in the United States, and the aquarium received permission to allow that pair to breed.
Visitors can keep up with the chick’s progress on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter and Pinterest.
The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. To learn more, visit www.montereybayaquarium.org.