Baby It’s Cold Outside…for a Penguin

AAQ_Penguins_Denis McDonald Photography

Our African Penguins love the beach. They are from South Africa, after all. When temperatures start to fall, they enjoy snuggling up inside the Penguin House to keep warm – and sometimes keep an egg cozy too!

That’s right – we’re talking about our breeding program at Adventure Aquarium. We participate in the Species Survival Plan, also called SSP, which is managed by AZA to help successfully regulate the breeding of endangered species in zoos and aquariums. If a species is endangered in the wild, we want to make sure to have stable and healthy populations in these facilities. Our African Penguins are part of this program, with our first chick, Liberty, born in 2001.  Adventure Aquarium has had 19 chicks born here since then, and hope to welcome new babies in the near future.

The breeding program is helpful as it helps alleviate interbreeding by making sure to keep track of family trees and sending certain birds to other locations to help the breeding process. When I spoke with Kate Budion, Biologist II with our Birds and Mammals team, she mentioned that only “single” birds are considered for transfer to other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums.

“We never separate established pairs,” noted Kate. “Only penguins who are not in paired are ever moved to another location.” (ALSO: We’ll  be spotlighting Kate in a post as part of a new series giving our readers a closer look at our AAQ staffers – coming soon!)

This can be extremely tough on the biologists who care for the animals.

African penguins can breed all year but Adventure Aquarium has seen most of its babies in the fall and early winter, basically from October to January. The birds tend to avoid super cold and extreme hot temperatures when having their chicks.

The biologists encourage good nesting habits and proper parenting by creating nests for the paired birds.

The materials used allow the birds to dig, move things around and get it just right for any potential eggs. Pretty sweet digs, right?

Anyways, we cannot confirm or deny our chick status but we’re hopeful to welcome new additions to the AAQ family soon! Stay tuned!

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