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Extremely endangered penguin chicks hatch at Maryland Zoo

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Posted at 11:40 AM, Oct 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-09 11:40:39-04

BALTIMORE, md. — The Maryland Zoo announced the hatching of three African penguin chicks – the first to hatch during the 2020-2021 season at Penguin Coast. The chicks hatched on September 18th, September 22nd and October 4th.

“With African penguins, both the male and the female take turns incubating the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”

At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents.

When they first hatch, chicks are about the size of a human palm. Covered in dark gray downy feathers, the chicks grow fast. They reach their full size, about six pounds, around three months of age. At the same time, their fluffy down is finished being replaced by waterproof feathers.
While the penguin chicks are not viewable to the public, juvenile and adult penguins can be seen at Penguin Coast. Penguin Feeding programs are offered twice daily, free with admission, and Penguin Encounters are offered throughout the year for an additional fee.

The Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in North America with 104 birds, including the newest hatchlings. Sadly, African penguins are extremely endangered. The 2019 penguin census showed another dramatic decline in South Africa, with approximately 13,500 pairs, a loss of 2,000 pairs from 2018. The global population, which includes Namibia, is now around 18,500 pairs, down from well over 2 million pairs in the 1920s, which is a 99.2% decline over the past 100 years.

For updates on the chicks in the coming weeks, please visit www.marylandzoo.org.