OdySea Aquarium is thrilled to announce the addition of an African penguin chick — the first for the 2019 breeding season—and is anticipating more chicks to hatch soon. The newborn penguin hatched over the weekend in the Penguin Point exhibit and is the offspring of Prince (mom) and Tux (dad), the penguin parents that gave Odysea Aquarium its first-ever penguin chick, Tigger, last spring. Currently, several pairs of penguins are incubating (sitting on) other viable eggs with estimated hatchings to occur imminently through the next few weeks, including one more from Prince and Tux.

“We are thrilled about this new chick and are cautiously anticipating the arrival of more of these charismatic birds,” says Jess Peranteau, Director of Animal Care and Education at OdySea Aquarium. “African penguin numbers are dwindling in their natural habitat, so a baby-boom would be a success for the species as well as for zoos and aquariums.” 

African penguins are endangered, with less than 21,000 breeding pairs left in their native South Africa. To help ensure the survival of the species, OdySea Aquarium participates in a scientifically-controlled breeding program, the Species Survival Plan (SSP), with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions. The SSP specifically matches penguins to create the greatest genetic diversity in the population.

The average African penguin chick weighs about two ounces, the approximate weight and size of a golf ball. Penguin chicks hatch with a light-colored, downy layer of plumage that is not water-proof. Penguins grow extremely fast and in just a few months, this chick will be the size of a fully-grown African penguin, and their down will be replaced by water-proof feathers, a process called fledging.

The new chick’s gender is currently unknown but will be determined through blood tests.  A naming contest will for the offspring will be held in the coming weeks.  Guests and visitors are encouraged to follow the Aquarium’s social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) to stay up-to-date on the penguin “chick checks.”  Beginning February 1, visit the Penguin Webcam on OdySea Aaquarium’s website from noon – 2 p.m. to (possibly) see the Aquarium’s newest arrival live from its nest in Penguin Point!