Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Bronx Zoo Hatches Its First Fairy Penguin, The World's Tiniest Penguin

(Julie Larsen Maher / Wildlife Conservation Society) A couple months ago, the Bronx Zoo had a very special delivery: Its first fairy penguin chick was born on May 10th, making it the first time the species was bred at the zoo. While it doesn't carry around a sparkly wand, it does have one magic power: being super adorable!

The Bronx Zoo introduced the fairy penguins last year after receiving some from the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia. Some fun fairy penguin facts from the Wildlife Conservation Society:
Named for their small size and characteristic bluish hue, little penguins are also known as blue penguins, little blue penguins, and fairy penguins. Adults are only about 13 inches tall and weigh 2 to 3 pounds. They are the smallest of the 18 penguin species and native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand.

Little penguins lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, or under thick vegetation. They may even nest under man-made structures.. Both parents care for and incubates the egg. Chicks weigh just 25g as hatchlings. They lose their downy plumage at about 50 days of age when it is replaced with waterproof feathers... The species occurs in temperate marine waters and feed on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They nest colonially in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas. Like other penguin species, they use a wide range of vocalizations to communicate with each other. In the wild, their populations are threatened by climate change and human activities.
The Bronx Zoo is also supporting "little penguin" conservation programs in Sydney's harbor; the WCS says, "The work includes monitoring, awareness campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, breeding programs, and more. Man-made nest boxes can provide safety from introduced predators and guard dogs have been used in some places to discourage predation." Stateside, the Zoo's penguins will "help ensure continued genetic diversity in the little penguin populations in the U.S." Just look how cute this little chick is:

You can see the chick and the adults at the Bronx Zoo's Aquatic Bird House—here they are having fun:


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