With so much attention this weekend on our juvenile penguins Saba, Cornelius, Pumpkin and Patch, it seemed like the perfect time to throw some spotlight on the 20-something-inch birds that brought them into the world!
Enter penguin “moms” Diane and Minnie, full-time residents of Penguin Island at Adventure Aquarium!
At 18 years old, Minnie is the older of the two and is a veteran penguin mom, having hatched – with the help of partner Kamikaze – a whopping 8 chicks, including Myer, Jack and Jambo, as well as Saba and Cornelius who hatched back in January.
Interestingly, Minnie is also the mother-in-law of to 13 year old Diane. Diane (and her partner Jack) have had three penguins hatch at Adventure Aquarium, including 5-year old Little Ditty, and Pumpkin and Patch, who hatched last October. For those of you keeping track at home; yes – that also makes Minnie the grandmother to Pumpkin and Patch!
Life as a penguin mom
A penguin mom gets to work the moment they lay an egg. Mom (and dad, too!) take turns sitting on the egg, incubating it for about five weeks (35-40 days). During this time, they keep careful and continuous watch to protect their egg until it’s ready to hatch. And after the chick hatches, mom and dad keep it warm by continuing to brood over it, and nourished through regurgitation. This continues for about a month until the little one is old enough to take care of itself.
More than just a mom, but a V.I.P.
Aside from having hatched adorable penguin chicks, moms Diane and Minnie have played a very significant role in the continuation of their species, through the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA’s) African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). Roughly 200,000 African penguins existed in 2000, but today’s population is estimated to be only about 55,000. If the decline is not halted, the African penguin could be extinct within 15 years. But thanks to the SSP – a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of African Penguins through a scientifically-controlled breeding program – and efforts from fellow penguin moms like Diane and Minnie, there are significant efforts to try and reverse that trend so that this species can continue to thrive in the wild.