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Penguin colony welcomes two new floofy members!

Posted by Gigi Allianic, communications
Photos by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren, Woodland Park Zoo

A 9-day-old chick is placed into a cozy bowl (with a fleece towel) during a routine weigh-in and health check with animal keeper John.
Breeding season for Woodland Park Zoo’s Humboldt penguins has officially come to a happy conclusion with the behind-the-scenes debut of two floofy new hatchlings. These newest chicks bring the total number of successful hatchings of the species at the zoo to 70 since the zoo’s first breeding season in 2010—one year after the penguin habitat opened. We won't know the sex of these chicks until DNA tests can be conducted.

Two Humboldt penguin chicks have hatched this spring. 

Penguin keeper John gets weights and measurements on the older and larger of the two chicks. This one is currently 5 weeks old!
Incubation for penguins takes 40 to 42 days, with both parents sharing duties in the nest and day-to-day care for their chicks. The first chick hatched April 5 to mom Claudia and dad Cortez. It is the third offspring for the parents. The second chick hatched May 1 and was placed under the care of foster parents Mateo and Mini. Its biological parents used to live at Woodland Park Zoo but recently moved to another accredited institution under a breeding recommendation made by the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan—a cooperative, conservation breeding program that helps ensure a healthy, self-sustaining population of penguins.

The chicks are being raised by their parents, but are occasionally removed from the nest for exams and weigh-ins to make sure all growth milestones are being met. This chick is 9 days old. 
Currently both chicks are with their parents in nesting burrows that aren't visible from the public area. Other than occasional weigh-ins to make sure they're achieving growth milestones, our penguin keepers are letting the parents raise their chicks.

This little buddy is growing quickly! 

A penguin chick learns to swim in a shallow pool behind the scenes. Its downy chick plumage is molting and being replaced by new waterproof feathers. Photo by Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo
When they reach the right age to leave their parents—called fledging—the keepers will move them from the nest to a special behind-the-scenes area. This is where they can learn to eat fish directly from their keepers' hands. At this time they will be molting their downy baby feathers to make way for new waterproof plumage and will have round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment. By early summer, they should be more than ready to join the rest of the penguin colony in the outdoor habitat.

Woodland Park Zoo's outdoor penguin habitat mimics the rocky coast of Punta San Juan, Peru. .
People do not usually think of penguins as a desert-dwelling species. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, Humboldt penguins inhabit hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile. They live on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands. Humboldt penguins have a body made to swim. Using their strong wings, they “fly” underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.

A vulnerable species, approximately 30,000 to 35,000 Humboldt penguins survive in their natural range. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, Peru, breeding the birds through the Species Survival Plan, and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options as directed by Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Punta San Juan is home to 5,000 Humboldt penguins, the largest colony in Peru.

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