CAMDEN, NJ (WTXF) - Adventure Aquarium officially announced the birth of two African penguin chicks earlier today. The clutch mates were born just days apart on Wednesday, April 6 and Sunday, April 10, respectively.
The baby penguins are doing well and growing fast. When the chicks first hatched approximately five weeks ago they each weighed less than two ounces, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball, but have each grown to weigh just under three pounds.
“We’re thrilled to welcome two new, 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 active, growing strong and have hearty appetites.”
The chicks’ genders are unknown, and a DNA test is scheduled in the coming months. The new chicks have also not been named. “A special announcement regarding how guests will help name our newest additions will be revealed in the very near future,” said Pagel. “Stay tuned for details!”
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 22 African penguin chicks.
Much like human newborn babies, when penguin chicks are first hatched, they are very dependent on their parents.
Their eyes are closed, and their bodies are developing muscles that will eventually allow them to hold their head up and walk (or waddle). A major difference between penguin and human babies is that penguin growth happens very quickly. In fact, in a year, the siblings will be the size of fully grown African penguins.
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 chicks’ care was transferred from their parents to AAQ keepers on Monday, May 9 at which point they were able to eat small but whole fish and are more physically developed and mobile.
“In order for the penguin chicks to learn how to acclimate with the colony here at the Aquarium, our staff must take over caring for them,” said Pagel. “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.”
Adventure Aquarium visitors will be able to see the adorable siblings this month following the African penguin feeds. Once they have grown large enough to assimilate with the other residents of the Aquarium’s Penguin Island exhibit, the chicks will join the rest of the colony on exhibit.