Thursday, March 12, 2015

Lebanon students part of penguin’s Aquarium debut

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Kevin Bacon is the newest king penguin chick hatched at the Newport Aquarium. He made his first public appearance while students from St. Francis DeSales School in Lebanon were visiting. CONTRIBUTED
Lebanon students part of penguin’s Aquarium debut photoStudents at St. Francis DeSales School in Lebanon were the first to meet Kevin Bacon, the newest king penguin chick, when he made his debut appearance at the Newport Aquarium. CONTRIBUTED

By Lisa Knodel 

Contributing Writer 

​Students at St. Francis de Sales School in Lebanon recently met Kevin Bacon.

Kevin Bacon is the newest – and third – king penguin chick hatched at the Newport Aquarium in the past year.

The first- and third-graders were attending the “All About Penguins” class when Manager of Education Programs Dan Dunlap said the aquarium had a public announcement regarding a new edition to the Penguin Palooza exhibit.

Students “oohed” and “aahed” as senior biologist Dan Clady picked up the chick from his parents for his debut appearance.

“This chick was hatched on February 7, and he’s doing really well,” explained senior biologist Jen Hazeres, who was stationed inside the cold-penguin exhibit with Clady to display Kevin Bacon for the students to see following the announcement.

The baby penguin initially weighed 225 grams at birth (about half a pound) and has grown to more than 2.5 pounds (1,188 grams).

As Hazeres explained to students about Kevin Bacon’s appearance and down feathers, he wiggled in her arms and squawked for his parents, father Bebe and mother Wednesday. Wednesday waddled up beside the biologist to be near her baby.

“Someone wants me to put the chick back,” Hazeres said with a chuckle.

The “All About Penguins” program teaches concepts of classification, habitats, adaptations, behaviors and conservation.

“It was very exciting; the students were very happy” to be a part of the announcement, said third grade teacher Edwina Harvey. “Our social studies curriculum for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati includes at the third grade level to learn all about Antarctica and the animals that live there. They learned that the penguins each have a number which tells about that specific penguin, such as birth and parents.”

The king penguin chick’s name is a reference to the actor’s 1980 film “Friday the 13th” – the young bird’s due date.

Kevin Bacon is the second third-generation king penguin that has hatched at Newport Aquarium. Wednesday was the last king penguin hatched at the aquarium in 2010, before the cold penguin exhibit was renovated and reopened as Kroger Penguin Palooza in March 2011.

The biologists said the successful breeding of three king penguins in less than a year is rare. On average, only 14 king penguins have hatched annually over the past 10 years while in captivity in zoos and aquariums in the U.S. The Newport Aquarium is one of only 16 institutions in the country to exhibit king penguins.

With the addition of Kevin Bacon, there are 13 king penguins, as well as chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and rockhopper penguins. A sixth penguin species, the African penguin, is also on exhibit at Newport Aquarium in The Penguin House.


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