Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Penguin chicks go on display at Aquarium of the Pacific

9/10/13 - These two Magellanic Penguin chicks made their way into the world, hatching at the Aquarium of the Pacific in late June. They were being cared for behind the scenes until Tuesday morning when the were introduced into the June Keyes Penguin Habitat with their mother and other penguins.  (Photo by Brittany Murray/Press Telegram)

LONG BEACH >> Toddlers pressed their faces against the glass wall of the penguin exhibit at
the Aquarium of the Pacific as two other toddlers pressed right back on the other side. Two penguin toddlers.

With curious eyes and their stripes not yet in, these two grey penguins on Tuesday morning stared curiously at the public, who were viewing them for the first time in the June Keyes Penguin Habitat since the brother and sister were hatched in the Aquarium in late June.

“They’re very popular with our guests because they’re people-like,” said Dudley Wigdahl, the aquarium’s curator of mammals and birds. “They’re curious, they walk upright, they have that funny waddle, and they’re comical. So all these things are very endearing, and what are the odds that you’ll ever see a penguin in your life other than coming to a zoo or an aquarium?”

As the young penguins swam laps and splashed in the water, their mother, Roxy, a rescue penguin from Brazil, floated nearby.

These young Magellanic penguins are the first chicks to be born and raised in the Aquarium, according to Wigdahl.

The chicks were raised unconventionally and apart from one another, because they were born six days apart instead of the typical two days apart. The first-born, a female, was allowed to be raised by her mother. But the second-born, a male, was underweight so aquarium experts took over his care for the first few weeks. They were then reunited so they could have some penguin companionship as they mature.

After the two penguins were hand-fed for three months and reached a normal weight, aquarium experts decided it was time for the birds to rejoin the rest of the colony, which currently has 10 males and five females, including the new young penguins.

“Now that we’ve got all the birds on exhibit, it’s going to be all things penguin now,” Wigdahl said with a grin.

The public has been able to view the penguin chicks’ process via webcam on the Aquarium’s website. Now the public can see them out in the exhibit, or by watching one of two webcams of the penguin exhibit. The birds will also be doing daily meet-and-greets at the Molina Animal Care Center.
The female penguin was named Heidi, but the public will be able to name the male at the Aquarium’s annual Sea Fare fundraiser on Oct. 19.

For more information and to purchase tickets to the Sea Fare fundraiser, visit www.aquariumofpacific.org/seafare or call (562) 437-FISH.


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