Friday, June 28, 2013

New Baby Penguin Is Newest Addition At The Tennessee Aquarium

Thursday, June 27, 2013 - by Thom Benson
Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Amy Graves holds a baby Macaroni Penguin, the first to hatch this season.
Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Amy Graves holds a baby Macaroni Penguin, the first to hatch this season.
- photo by Tennessee Aquarium
Tennessee Aquarium visitors are having fun acting as “penguin paparazzi,” each one hoping to capture the perfect picture of a fuzzy new bird. “The guests really love seeing this little Macaroni chick,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “They ask a lot of great questions about baby penguins and the other birds currently incubating eggs.”

This newest addition is the first offspring for parents “Merlin” and “Sweet Pea,” but they seem to be adjusting to parenthood quickly. “They make an awesome combination,” said Graves. “Merlin is a good protector and Sweet Pea is very nurturing and better at feeding the chick.”

New penguin parents don’t always have the best parental instincts. While Merlin and Sweet Pea have done a pretty good job so far, the Aquarium’s penguin experts have had to supplement the feeding routine a couple of times to ensure this tiny bird was receiving enough nutrients. Fortunately this pair has a gentle demeanor that makes caring for the chick a bit easier. “Both Sweet Pea and Merlin are really laid-back with easy-going personalities,” said Ms. Graves. “That makes it easier for us to perform regular weight checks, clean the nest and feed when necessary.”

Guests can see this chick in an acrylic “playpen” on the right-hand side of the exhibit. It has grown enough since hatching on May 31, to be visible most of the time. Although sometimes visitors may only see its bottom. “Merlin still likes to try tucking the chick under him for protection even though it’s too big to fit underneath,” Ms. Graves said with a chuckle. “The chick still wants to be tucked in, so every once in awhile you’ll see its head underneath Merlin.”

A blood test will be performed later to determine the gender of this new penguin.

This could still be a very busy season for the Aquarium’s penguin keepers. There are several Gentoo Penguins with eggs and two couples that might still lay eggs. “Zeus and Pebbles are showing interest in nesting right now,” said Ms. Graves. “And, we’re still waiting to see what will happen with Poncho and Peep. They produced a chick last year but seem to be in no hurry this year.”

Here is a look at the current egg count:

Nipper and Flower – two eggs
Bug and Big T – two eggs
Biscuit and Blue – one egg

Guests might want to add the afternoon Backstage Pass to their upcoming Tennessee Aquarium visit to get a bird’s-eye view of the nesting penguins.


No comments: