Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Baby penguins hatch at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Sarah Meehan
The Baltimore Sun
Here's your first glimpse of the Maryland Zoo's new penguin chicks.
It's penguin season at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

Two African penguin chicks, the first fuzzballs of the 2015-2016 breeding season, hatched at the Maryland Zoo on Nov. 5 and Nov. 9.

The chicks, born to parents Mega and Rossi, won't be on public display for several months.
With more than 60 penguins, the Maryland Zoo has the largest colony of African penguins in the country. Zoo officials are aiming to grow the penguin population to 100 in the next few years.

Breeding season began in September, and penguin eggs generally hatch 38 to 42 days after they're laid. After hatching, penguin chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks, as zoo keepers and veterinarians monitor their weight daily. Keepers begin hand-rearing the chicks after about three weeks.

Penguin Coast, an $11 million exhibit that replaced the penguins' previous home at Rock Island, opened in September 2014, helping the zoo facilitate its penguin breeding program.

The new additions will remain with the larger breeding colony at Penguin Coast rather than joining the zoo's traveling outreach program, a group of six "animal ambassador" penguins that live in a separate part of the exhibit.

And because they won't be venturing into the surrounding community, the new chicks won't be named by the public. The zoo held a contest last year to name two of the 2014 chicks, now known as Dawn and Hope, who became part of the outreach group.


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