Sunday, July 19, 2015

African black-footed penguin chick takes her first swim at Dallas Zoo

July 17, 2015
Alli Andress
Animal News Examiner
“She seemed to really enjoy her first swim,” Dallas Zoo’s Curator of Birds, Sprina Liu, told yesterday in reference to African black-footed penguin chick Marina’s first plunge into the penguin pool on Tuesday, July 14. “She hopped right in and almost immediately started bathing which is a really good sign.”
Three-day-old Marina the African black-footed penguin
Three-day-old Marina the African black-footed penguin
Photo provided by the Dallas Zoo

Dallas Zoo keepers have been busy with Marina, working with her regularly. “Marina is still young but keepers have worked with her on a variety of aspects to allow for basic husbandry needs,” Liu shared. “She takes fish from keepers, is learning to shift on/off exhibit, can be weighed and handled for basic veterinary needs as they arise. In addition, keepers have slowly been introducing Marina to the rest of the penguin flock. She has had visual and auditory contact with the group for the duration of her rearing and in the more recent weeks, has slowly met the rest of the group.”

Marina at three-months-old

Born to first-time parents Tulip and Tazo, Marina hatched on April 15, 2015. She is one of 20 African black-footed penguins living at the Dallas Zoo, spread out between the penguin exhibit, the zoo’s bird show, and various outreach programs. “Marina is doing really well but is still learning about the exhibit and the social dynamics with her group,” Liu detailed. “She is out on exhibit periodically throughout the day as keepers are able to monitor her introduction and is currently spending a total of three hours outside throughout the day. We are increasing the amount of time she is out based on her behavior and how she is doing with the group. We hope she will be able to be on exhibit for the whole day soon!”

On Tuesday, one day before Marina’s three-month birthday, the nearly fully grown chick got to enjoy some supervised swimming time. “We had a really good sense of the timeframe in which the chicks are ready for swimming based on the species' natural history and speaking with colleagues at other institutions, but ultimately, we base it on the chick’s feather condition and behavior,” Liu explained.
While Marina is young, Liu states, “Each penguin does have their own unique personality and she is no different. We try and expose all our animals to a variety of smells, tastes, sounds so they are well adjusted to their surroundings. At the moment, since she’s just learned how to swim, she’s spending time exploring her swimming capabilities.”

Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, head to the Dallas Zoo for an in-person glimpse of Marina, Tulip, Tazo, the other black-footed penguins, and many other animals that call the zoo “home.”

No comments: