Three endangered African Blackfooted penguin chicks are now on display at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas penguin exhibit, the Aquarium announced today.
The chicks, born in March, are growing quickly, the Aquarium says, and are products of the Audubon Penguin Breeding Program.
“With their numbers decreasing by as much as 90% in the past century, the hatching of multiple African penguin chicks is especially significant and makes me incredibly proud of the program’s accomplishments,” said Audubon Senior Aviculturist Darwin Long in a press release. “I’m very excited to share the images and video I have captured of the development of these adorable three chicks and proud to help sustain a quickly diminishing species of penguin.”
The Aquarium is part of a program that works to build genetically-diverse populations of threatened and endangered animals in captivity to help ensure their survival. Audubon has raised 46 chicks since the Aquarium opened in 1990 and currently is home to 31 African Blackfooted penguins and three Southern Rockhopper penguins.
The chicks are currently on a diet of small fish, Audubon says, having been weaned from a hand-blended, special penguin chick formula.
“One typically spends a 14-hour day in the early stages feeding 5 or even 6 times, cleaning, doing laundry, and preparing the next meals, all the while acclimating the bird to its surroundings and assessing health,” says Long. “It really makes you appreciate the work load of an actual penguin parent in the wild.”