June 3, 2021 update: Sadly, one of the chicks passed away on June 2. Veterinary staff are caring for the second chick, providing syringe feedings, extra fluids and antibiotics. The chick seems to be doing a little better.
June 1, 2021: Two Magellanic penguin chicks hatched at the Zoo in late May to parents Red and Pink (named after their colored identification armbands). Penguin pairs mate for life, and this is Red and Pink’s fourth time as parents.
In past years, Red and Pink have been known to be very involved parents, defending their chick against potential threats like crows that fly too close.
“This year is no different,” said Assistant Curator Sheriden Ploof. “They are great at parenting together.”
The chicks will be hidden for their first few weeks, keeping warm and safe beneath Red and Pink. They will periodically emerge for feedings, when their parents give them regurgitated fish they’ve already eaten.
The Zoo’s veterinary staff will be giving the chick’s multiple check-ups, listening to their heart and lungs and checking their feet and mouths for anything unusual.
“They appear to be healthy and doing well,” said Veterinarian Dr. Kadie Anderson. “We’ll continue to monitor their weight to ensure they are growing appropriately.”
The chicks’ genders aren’t yet known. In a month or so, when they start exploring the exhibit, keepers will take them behind the scenes to learn to swim in a safely shallow pool until their waterproof feathers grow in, and to bond with keepers. The veterinary team can determine the gender then via blood samples.
Until then, Zoo guests can potentially spot the chicks inside their burrows.
This is the fifth consecutive year for the hatching of penguin chicks through the Zoo’s participation in the Association of Zoos’ & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan® (SSP) managed breeding program for Magellanic penguins. Magellanic penguins are native to the South American shores of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Brazil. They are threatened in the wild by a number of factors, including the proliferation of plastics in the ocean, spills of oil and other hazardous materials, and overfishing.