ZOO STAFF HAVE THEIR HANDS FULL WITH FIVE AFRICAN PENGUIN CHICKS
October 12, 2010
MEMPHIS, TENN. – Five baby African penguin chicks recently hatched at the Memphis Zoo. “Kanoni,” “Lehana,” “Nahla,” “Zerali,” and “Taye” were all born between September 12 and September 17 to three different sets of penguin parents.
“We’ve never had this many penguin chicks at one time,” says Carol Hesch, Assistant Curator. “It’s been a challenge, but we’re very excited to watch them grow and develop.” The chicks spent their first few weeks with their parents. Once they were old enough to eat whole fish, zookeepers became their primary caretakers. Each penguin chick consumes about one pound of fish daily during four separate feedings.
At the end of October, four of the penguin chicks will be sent to Columbus Zoo to be used as education animals. Because of his favorable genetic lineage, Zerali will remain a part of the Memphis Zoo breeding program and join his parents on Penguin Rock when he is old enough.
“The status of the African penguin has just been upgraded to endangered because of decreases in the wild fish populations due to commercial fishing and prey movement in the ocean,” says Hesch. “Continuing certain genetic lines is critical to the survival of this species.”
Zookeepers do not know whether the penguin chicks are male or female. Blood tests will be done in the near future to determine their gender. The penguin chicks are currently on display in the hatchery, which is in the rides area, just east of the Once Upon a Farm exhibit. Visitors can view the new babies during normal Zoo operating hours.