Thursday, July 14, 2016

Penguin Chicks: What goes into their birth?

Visitors to Zoo Boise are getting closer to seeing their first baby penguin in 10 years. (KBOI Photo)
Visitors to Zoo Boise are getting closer to seeing their first baby penguin in 10 years.

That's in addition to six baby coatis, each around eight weeks old.

The penguin chick hatched on May 16 and doesn't have a name yet. Choosing rights will likely be auctioned off.

From birth to five weeks old, General Curator Lindsay Ruffner says keepers were mostly hands off while her parents, Tuffy and Bochelli, raised her.

Now the chick is in what's called "fish school," learning how to eat whole fish from keepers.

Three meals a day along with a schedule of supplements, vitamins, and salt tablets -- this baby chick is growing fast.

"They weigh her first thing in the morning get what her body weight is and then every feeding that day she gets ten percent of her body weight," Ruffner says.

Baby penguins aren't born knowing how to swim, so she's in a space away from the water and off exhibit.

"A lot of exhibits in zoos have the dens so close to the water source that you run the risk of an accident happening. If we could, we would leave these chicks with their parents until they fledge if we had different exhibit design," Ruffner says.

Meanwhile, she transitions from downy feathers to juvenile feathers and strengthens her wings; better suited for swimming.

Keepers are also responsible for swim lessons.

"We'll have to know she knows how to get out of the pool, it's very important so we'll do swim times with somebody there to observe her to make sure she doesn't get into any trouble," Ruffner says.

By three months of age, if things run smoothly, she'll be ready for the exhibit for everyone to enjoy.

The penguin chick's debut depends on her development and swimming skills but zoo staff says it could be around late August or September.


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