Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Baby Penguins Hatched at Lowry Park Zoo

Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo announces the arrival of two African penguin chicks.
Submitted by Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo:

On a day made for love birds, Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo is pleased to announce the successful hatching of two new African penguin chicks.

In wild colonies, penguins are thought to mate for life. Likewise, at the Zoo, African penguins usually remain with a single partner for years, and can produce one or two eggs per breeding season. Typically, the incubation period lasts about 36-42 days, and the parents will care for the chick for several weeks or months following hatching.

The newest “clutch mates” (chicks hatched from the same breeding cycle), are the first set of two successful hatchings to the same parents, known as Amber and Violet.
The last 12 months have been a busy time for the penguin colony with five successful hatchings:
  • Male chick named “Marini,” hatched to Thumbelina and Flannigan Feb. 11, 2011;
  • Female chick named “Taki” hatched to Thumbelina and Flannigan May 19, 2011;
  • Unknown gender chick hatched to Tinkerbell and Loki Dec. 6, 2011;
  • Unknown gender chick hatched to Amber and Violet Jan. 31, 2012; and
  • Unknown gender chick hatched to Amber and Violet Feb. 3, 2012.
The newest penguin chicks will remain with the parents for a few weeks, then be transitioned to zookeeper care to facilitate independence and learning to swim, before ultimately joining the colony on exhibit in several months. Once on exhibit, the pair will be easy to spot with their dark gray juvenile plumage which will be replaced by the characteristic black and white feathers following their first molt.
African penguins, endemic to mainly offshore islands on South Africa’s coast, were reclassified in 2010 from 'vulnerable' to 'endangered' on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List. The Zoo’s penguins are members of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) program.

There are 17 species of penguins in the world, each distinctive.  Not all species live in frigid climates, with some well suited for warm climates.  African penguins are also known “black-footed” penguins or “jackass” penguins for their donkey-like braying sounds during courtship. The wild population has declined drastically (estimated 80 percent) in the last 50 years due to loss of habitat and oil pollution.

For an up-close encounter with the Zoo’s penguins, aviary keepers and Zoo docents (trained volunteers) offer educational talks and penguin feedings twice daily to engage guests while the birds feed, swim, waddle and play.  The Zoo also hosts an African Penguin Awareness Day in October, and works in cooperation with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), a seabird rehabilitation centre is based in Cape Town, South Africa. .Tampa’s Lowry Park Zoo acknowledges with gratitude the generous support of Ameriprise Financial in its sponsorship of the Penguin Beach exhibit.


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