Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Meet Zeke the #penguin, Columbus Zoo’s new little waddler

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
The cold winter didn’t stop a warm-weather penguin pair from producing a fuzzy gray offspring at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The Humboldt chick, dubbed Zeke after Ohio State University running back Ezekiel Elliott, hatched on Feb. 20 and has made it past the critical time period for survival, zoo spokeswoman Patty Peters said yesterday.

The male chick weighed 3 ounces when it hatched and 10 ounces on Friday, she said. Full-grown Humboldts average 9 pounds. Pieces of the shell were collected and sent out for DNA testing to confirm the chick’s gender. Peters said Zeke will remain in a nesting box behind the scenes until April, then will be on public view.

Humboldt penguins are native to Chile and Peru off the western coast of South America and are a vulnerable species because of over-fishing, climate change and habitat disturbance, Peters said. They’re among 14 warm-weather penguin species. The chick’s parents are Tressel and Fritz. Because Fritz — the father — has a heart condition, another penguin couple — Secunda and Watson — will raise the hatchling.

Tressel and Fritz had two chicks last year and four others since they became a breeding pair in 2005, part of a survival plan for the Humboldt penguin that was recommended by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The Columbus zoo has hatched 23 chicks, including Zeke, since 1996 and currently has 15 Humboldt penguins.


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