Today marked a big day for two juvenile penguins as both their names and genders were officially revealed, Aquarium officials announced today. The two chicks, which hatched on April 16 and April 20, respectively, were announced May 18, 2018 on Endangered Species Day, the national observation of conservation efforts to protect endangered species and their habitats. African penguins are endangered, with only 21,000 breeding pairs remaining in the wild.
Following the announcement, a public vote was held to name the youngest members of the aquarium’s largest-ever colony of African penguins. Because the penguins’ genders were unknown at the time of hatching, with DNA test results need to determine their sexes, the name options proposed were gender neutral.
The vote was held this past June and July and we asked our guests to vote for their favorite name options using spare change. The four name options, nominated by Adventure Aquarium team members were Dobby, Meatball, Nova and Pistachio. We were really excited to see which came out as the favorite names for our new additions.
And the winners are…Meatball and Pistachio!
Thanks to stellar participation of guest voting for the contest, nearly $800 was collected with 100% of the funds raised going to support conservation efforts for endangered African penguins in the wild.
In addition to the naming, the chicks’ genders were determined by blood test resulting in a male and female sibling pair. The female will be named Pistachio, wearing band number 40; and the male will assume the name Meatball, wearing band number 41.
Both Meatball and Pistachio have been introduced to the colony in the Penguin Island exhibit with guests able to see them when visiting Adventure Aquarium daily. Our entire team is excited for our guests to watch them swim in the underwater viewing area and integrate into the group!
The Aquarium is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), a program that encourages zoos and aquariums to work together to help ensure the survival of the species through a scientifically-controlled breeding program. Since it began working with the program in 1998, the Aquarium has successfully bred and raised 33 African penguin chicks.