Maryland Zoo Welcomes Three 'Extremely Endangered' African Penguin Newborns — It’s Extraordinary
Oct 17, 2020 by apost team
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore welcomed three new African penguin chicks on September 18th and October 22nd. Native to southern Africa, this species' population has been on the decline for years, which makes the zoo's announcement even more important.
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Jen Kottyan, who is the zoo's conservation manager, said, "It's amazing that we are in our 53rd year working with African penguins. We are always excited to watch the colony grow each year, and happy to announce that three chicks have hatched already this breeding season." He added that the zoo was expecting to receive seven other African Penguin chicks from this hatching season, although he acknowledged that this largely depended on the penguins' calendar.
The Maryland Zoo acknowledges that the African penguins are part of the extremely endangered species. The estimated global population of the African penguins stands at about 18,500 pairs. This is a 99.2 percent decline in the total population of the species, which was estimated to be about two million in number during the early 20th century.
The decline in the bird's population in the past century saw conservation organizations and zoos increase their efforts to restore the penguins' population. The Maryland Zoo is one of the areas where African penguins are found in large colonies. It is home to more than 104 birds, thus making it the facility with the largest African penguins in North America.
It takes about 38 to 42 days for penguin chicks to hatch once the birds lay the eggs. The Zoo officials revealed that once the birds lay the eggs, their team takes time to check whether the chicks are growing. Once they confirm that the chicks are developing as expected, the team gives back the eggs to their parents so that they can hatch.
The zoo officials further disclosed how the African penguins incubate their eggs. Kottyan said that both the male and the female African penguins have a role to play in incubating eggs. They each take turns to incubate the eggs and once they are hatched, they share the responsibility of protecting, feeding, and keeping the chicks warm for two to three months before they switch off.
When the African penguin chicks are hatched, most of them are the size of a grown human being's palm. Despite their size, it takes only three months for them to grow and gain the weight of a full-size adult, which is about 6 pounds.
To ensure the birds' development is optimal, there are veterinary officers in the Maryland Zoo who are tasked with monitoring the health of the penguin chicks during their early stages of life. They regularly weigh and measure them after a few days to determine if they are receiving the desired care from their parents. The new African penguin chicks are expected to be unveiled in the park in April when the temperature will be warm.
Although the African penguin's population has been on the decline, the efforts of the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore are significantly helping to increase the bird's population. The facility continues to breed these birds and is currently home to 104 birds. Hopefully, the population will continue increasing as more eggs keep hatching at the facility.
The zoo expects that it will breed seven more chicks during this current breeding season, which is a remarkable milestone in the conservation journey for the African penguins.
Have you ever seen an African penguin? Let us know your thoughts about penguins in the comments, and be sure to pass this along to your loved ones!