First baby penguins of the year born at Moody Gardens
06:24 PM CST on Tuesday, December 23, 2008
by Michelle Ponto / KHOU.com
GALVESTON, Texas – Christmas arrived early at Moody Gardens with the arrival of two baby penguins.
The babies were born on Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. They were the first two penguin births this year, making the holidays even more meaningful for the healing island as recovery efforts progress following Hurricane Ike.
“Everyone loves the warm and fuzzy,” said Diane Olsen, assistant curator at the Aquarium Pyramid, referring to the fuzzy penguin chicks as well as the heartwarming reaction they seem to trigger. “As a Galveston resident myself, I know we can appreciate each of these wonderful occurrences this year.”
Despite intermittent power, emergency power and a few days of life support through oxygen tanks and air rocks following Hurricane Ike, the Moody Gardens penguins started breeding activities right after the storm, signaling optimal conditions and behavior in the penguin habitat, Olsen said. Staff is expecting 11 more eggs of various species to hatch in the coming weeks.
The parents of the two gentoo chicks came from Sea World six years ago. The two babies hatched just seven days apart, but they grow quickly.
"They will be adult size in about 30-35 days," said Olsen. "It's a good survival techique. They grow fast to get out the sea while the fishing is still good."
The babies are about 120 grams when they are born, and in a little over a month they will be around 3.5 kg.
"They pretty much double in weight every day," said Olsen. "They grow a little faster in captivity because of the steady food source."
Olsen said the penguins are running about a month behind in their breeding, which is probably due to the hurricane. While they were able to the temperature of the tanks stable during the poweroutage, the lack of light may have through them off.
"Their breeding is all done by light-cycle," said Olsen. "Once the lights came back on, they started creating nests on the rocks and have been breeding ever since."
The Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid now offers a special 45-minute Penguin Experience program offering guests a close-up encounter with real penguins and a presentation by biologists about penguin biology and how they care for these popular creatures.
The baby chicks are also on exhibit.
VIDEOS: HERE and HERE
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