Our two male African blackfooted penguin chicks—the first ever born at the Aquarium—are back on exhibit in the Splash Zone. Pebble and Tola, born earlier this year, were moved behind the scenes until they learned how to swim and get comfortable with people. On May 17, Aquarium aviculture staff began putting the chicks on exhibit for brief periods.
At first the re-introductions lasted about two hours --then other penguins on exhibit would begin chasing and pecking at the youngsters (normal behavior between adults and chicks). Whenever this occurred, the chicks were taken behind the scenes again
“Every day it got better and better,” says Associate Curator of Aviculture Aimee Greenebaum. “So we would increase the time on exhibit. We tried to let them work it out themselves.”
Although Pebble and Tola are the same size as the adult penguins on exhibit, you can recognize them by their juvenile plumage. What does the future hold? As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan, the Aquarium is allowed to breed additional penguins on exhibit. (Eventually some will be transferred to other institutions.)
“We’re really pleased,” says Aimee. “It’s been a lot of work and a learning experience, but it’s worth it. These chicks have distinct personalities, and they’re fun to work with!”