Saturday, July 3, 2010

8 New Penguin Chicks in Boston

NE Aquarium Welcomes 8 New Penguin Chicks


In the past month, eight new penguin chicks have broken out of their shells to join the New England Aquarium family. New England Aquarium
This summer, African penguins at the New England Aquarium have a good reason to celebrate, besides the first ever World Cup hosted in their homeland.

While the sound of Vuvuzelas filled the stadiums in South Africa, aquarium biologists in Boston maintained a much quieter environment for soon-to-be parents in the hatching room.

Since late May, aquarium biologists have tracked the process of adult African penguins making nests, laying eggs, incubating the eggs and finally, the actual hatching of the eggs.

They have also occasionally checked for fertility of the eggs to ensure the healthy and successful hatching process.

Thanks to the joint efforts, in the past month, eight new penguin chicks have broken out of their shells to join the New England Aquarium family -- and possibly four more baby penguins are still on the way.

Newborns, dusty gray and still unable to open their eyes, can barely support the weight of their heads, and here and there, flap their wings and waddle toward their parents.

The adults guard their penguin chicks by wrapping them with their bodies and feed them with regurgitated small fish.

For the next month or so, biologists will separate the chicks from their parents every other day for brief physical check-up and weigh-in sessions.

After 40 days, fast grown chicks will leave their parents and form their own peer group while the biologists prepare them for the life in the exhibit space.

During this period, aquarium biologists introduce hand feeding.

The chicks will rejoin their family and make their first public debut in late August or Early September.

African penguins, native to coastal waters and islands in South Africa and Namibia, are considered in danger of extinction due to pollution and climate change.

They breed in huge, noisy colonies and greet each other by flapping wings, clicking beaks and making sounds much like the braying of a donkey.


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