An African blackfooted penguin chick, hatched on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium on the morning of June 4, is the fifth hatched in the penguin colony at the aquarium.
The newborn, which came into the world at 2.1 ounces (60 grams), weighed in Wednesday morning at 6.9 ounces (195 grams), an indication that the chick is eating well.
The chick, whose gender is unknown, is being cared for by its parents, Karoo and Messina, on exhibit in the "Splash Zone" family gallery. "The parents are doing a great job caring for the chick," said Aimee Greenebaum, associated curator for aviculture at the aquarium. "We enjoy seeing them be such attentive parents."
African blackfooted penguins have a high rate of mortality, Greenebaum cautioned, even in cases when parental and veterinary care is excellent.
The birds are part of a Species Survival Plan, managed by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, and are considered "threatened," Greenebaum said.
Karoo and Messina were identified by the association as genetically important to the captive population of this species in the United States, and the aquarium received permission to allow the pair to breed.
The chick is the fifth hatched in the penguin colony at the aquarium. Of three birds that hatched in January 2011, the two males, Pebble and Tola, survived and are both doing well at Dallas World Aquarium. Maq hatched in August 2013 and is currently on exhibit at the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The chick will remain with Karoo and Messina for about three weeks, or until it starts leaving its nest, Greenebaum said.
Angela Haines, spokesperson for the aquarium, said veterinarians will be conducting tests on the chick's eggshell in coming days to try to determine the gender. "If that doesn't work, what we'll do is determine the gender by drawing blood," she said. "We're usually able to do that after the chick is approximately three months old."
At that time, the family will be moved behind the scenes for the chick's safety. Greenebaum said it cannot be left on exhibit because it could accidentally drown or be injured by adult penguins in the exhibit.
The chick eventually will receive a name, and will rejoin the colony on exhibit, along with its parents, about three months later. After one to two years, the chick may stay in Splash Zone or move to another accredited zoo or aquarium.
Visitors can keep tabs on the chick's progress at www.facebook.com/montereybayaquarium, http://montereybayaquarium.tumblr.com, https://plus.google.com/+MontereyBayAquarium/posts and https://twitter.com/montereyaq.