The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore announced the hatching of two African penguin chicks. They are the first to hatch during the 2017-2018 breeding season at Penguin Coast.
The chicks hatched on October 13 and 14 are being cared for behind-the-scenes in the Penguin Conservation Center. One chick is being raised by its parents while the other is being cared for by the staff.
“This breeding season is off to a wonderful start,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager in a statement.
“As soon as the nest boxes were made available to the penguins, they began exhibiting breeding behaviors and claiming their nests. We are really excited about the prospects for this season, and these two are just the beginning.”
This breeding season at The Maryland Zoo could mark the first time that any zoo or aquarium in North America has hatched 1,000 African penguin chicks during the course of their history with the birds.
“Since we began working with African penguins in 1967, the Zoo has successfully hatched 989 penguin chicks, which includes the two we are announcing today,” continued Kottyan.
“If our penguin pairs hatch eleven more healthy chicks this season, then we will hit the 1,000 mark. Spoiler alert – we have several more eggs incubating under their parents right now! We really have high hopes of hatching at least eleven chicks, if not more, this season.”
The Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in North America, now with over 89 birds.
Breeding season for the African penguins at Penguin Coast begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of February, mimicking the spring/summer breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa.
The chicks will stay behind the scenes until their juvenile feathers have grown. They also need to pass swim lessons.
Once this has happened, and the weather conditions are right, the chicks will make their public debut.