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First Penguin Chick Hatches at
Monterey Bay Aquarium
The Monterey Bay Aquarium is thrilled to announce that its first-ever African blackfooted penguin chick has hatched in the popular “Splash Zone: Ocean Homes” family gallery. The chick, whose gender is unknown, hatched early Saturday (January 8) to parents Umngane (UM-GAHNEE) and Dassen in the penguin exhibit in “Splash Zone.”
The chick is vocalizing and appears to be doing well, said Aimee Greenebaum, associate curator of aviculture. “We’re very excited to welcome our first penguin chick,” she said. “It’s great to have a baby around.”
But protective parents and a high nesting site inside the exhibit unfortunately means that visitors are unlikely to see the chick.
During a quick exam today (January 10), the chick weighed approximately 4.2 ounces (120.5 grams), nearly double what it weighed Saturday, Greenebaum said. “That weight gain means the first-time parents are feeding it regularly,” she said. “They’re being very attentive.”
Despite excellent parental and veterinary care, Greenebaum cautions that blackfooted penguin chicks have a high rate of mortality, especially those hatched to first-time parents.
If all goes well, the chick will remain in its nest for approximately three weeks or until it starts wandering out on its own, Greenebaum said. Then staff will then move it behind-the-scenes where it will be hand-raised to become comfortable with people. The chick will be raised as an “education bird,” meaning it is likely to interact with the public as part of educational programs at the aquarium or if transferred to another institution.
The chick will return to its “Splash Zone” exhibit around 80 days of age. It will be introduced to the exhibit slowly, and remain under watchful observation and removed at night until the staff feels confident it can swim, get in and out of the water, and not be harassed by other birds.
Because of their genetic importance to the captive population, the aquarium received permission to breed Umngane and Dassen from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, which accredits animal institutions in the United States, through its Species Survival Plan for African blackfooted penguins.
Visitors can keep up with the chick’s progress at the aquarium’s website, blog www.seanotesblog.org or the Facebook fan page.
The mission of the nonprofit Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans. To learn more, visit www.montereybayaquarium.org
Editors: Please contact Public Relations for digital images and footage.