Penguin chick hatches at zoo just in time for World Penguin Day

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Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the hatching of a Magellanic penguin chick ahead of World Penguin Day on Sunday, April 25. This chick marks the eighth successful hatching at the zoo since the opening of the Tuxedo Coast exhibit in 2010, and the first since 2019.

The chick hatched on March 25 to parents Oreo and Kowalski. This is their fourth successful hatchling. They have been responsible parents, so staff have not had to intervene to help with hatching or rearing the chick.

The chick’s gender is not known at this time but will be determined soon through DNA testing. The little one is expected to make its public debut in the next few months as keepers continue to monitor its growth through weekly weigh-ins. Magellanic penguin chicks usually stay in their nests with the parents for about 70 days before fledging. This is when birds acquire the necessary feathers for independent activity.

“This penguin chick is a great new addition to our Magellenic colony,” said Mike Taylor, curator of Herps, Birds and Others. “Our animal care staff have enjoyed watching experienced parents Oreo and Kowalski continue to be exceptional with their new offspring. We are excited to watch this little one grow,”

Magellanic penguins are one of eight species found in South America and the surrounding islands. They are medium-sized penguins and can weigh between 6-14 pounds. Young birds often have a pattern on their feet that are blotched and gradually fade to black by the time they are 10 years old.

Of the 18 recognized species of penguins, 11 are listing as vulnerable or endangered primarily because of habitat loss, overfishing and climate change. Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports the work of Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds — especially African penguins.

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