Baby penguin hatches at the Aquarium of the Pacific

Photo credit: Robin Riggs

A baby Magellanic penguin chick recently hatched at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The chick is currently in a nest with its parents in one of the burrows behind the scenes of the June Keyes Penguin Habitat, and you will be able to visit the live webcam to see the nest. It will live there for a few weeks before moving to the Aquarium’s behind-the-scenes penguin nursery. Aquarium visitors will be able to see the chick and learn its sex when it joins the adults in the penguin habitat in the fall. The penguin parents who hatched the chick were Robbie and Kate, who were paired together for the first time this year. The Aquarium’s penguin breeding program is part of the Species Survival Plan administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. This plan ensures the genetic diversity of the Magellanic penguin population living at zoos and aquariums.

Magellanic penguins usually lay two eggs at a time. The penguin parents take turns incubating the eggs, which will hatch after thirty-eight to forty-two days. At the Aquarium, babies stay with their parents in the nest for about twenty days. Then, the babies are ready to leave the nest and head to the behind-the-scenes penguin nursery, where they can learn important skills like swimming, eating fish and squid staff members offer them, and how to otherwise interact with humans. At this vulnerable stage, before their feathers are watertight, it is much safer for the penguin chicks to stay in the nursery until about three months have passed and they have fledged, or replaced their last set of downy feathers with watertight adult feathers.

Magellanic penguins are native to the coasts of Argentina and Chile in South America. In the summer they are found in land-based breeding colonies. In the winter migration season, they are at sea foraging, often following schools of anchovies, their preferred food. They are one of four species that are called banded penguins in reference to the distinctive black and white bands around their faces and bodies. Their relatives are the African penguin (S. demersus), Galapagos penguin (S. mendiculus), and Humboldt penguin (S. humboldti). 

Visitors can also learn more about the Aquarium’s work caring for baby animals like penguins and its role in helping threatened and endangered species in California when they explore the new Babies! exhibition. They can watch the antics of rescued baby sea otters in the Aquarium’s Northern Pacific Gallery. Then they can explore over a dozen exhibits featuring more young animals in the all new Babies! exhibition inside Pacific Visions on the second floor. There they can meet little sharks, a young desert tortoise, baby clownfish, miniature sea jellies, and other animals.

Credit: The Aquarium of the Pacific.

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