African Penguin Chicks

African Penguins Hatched at the National Aviary!

We know you won't want to miss any updates about the two fuzzy African Penguin chicks that hatched here on December 16 and 20! You watched penguin parents Sidney and Bette care for their chicks live on our Penguin Nest Cam, and now, you can keep up to date on everything about the adorable penguin chicks all in one place!

African Penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs remaining in the wild. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan® (SSP), the National Aviary is doing our part to ensure a healthy population of African Penguins for future generations. This is the fourth set of chicks for Sidney and Bette who have had 8 chicks together at the National Aviary, including these two. These hatchings are an important step towards saving this species!

Check back here often for adorable updates, photos, and videos of the two African Penguin chicks!


Nearing adulthood

Check out how much this African Penguin chick has grown! Both of the chicks at the National Aviary are developing distinctive black spots on their white bellies, and continue to molt their downy feathers.


Primary Feathers Are Coming In!

Sidney and Bette’s two chicks are almost 2 months old. Their grey down is making way for the slick black and white primary feathers we are accustomed to seeing. The new feathers are visible on their wings. Penguins gain their distinct tuxedo pattern at around 18 months after their first full molt. Each pattern is as distinct as a human fingerprint!


Penguin Awareness Day

January 20 is Penguin Awareness Day! Penguin Awareness Day helps draw attention to the plight of penguins in the wild, which face challenges such as habitat loss, overfishing, environmental pollution, and warming ocean temperatures that affect food sources. The National Aviary participates in the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan® to help save African Penguins and other species. Watch the video below to learn all about our successes in 2018! 

And don’t forget, you can see the adorable penguin chicks and learn how to help African Penguins at a daily chick talk at 2 pm. 



Growing Up

They grow up so fast! The first Afican Penguin chick turned one month old on January 16, and the second chick will be one month on January 20! National Aviary visitors can still watch the penguin chicks sleep, snuggle, and eat through the Avian Care Center window. 

Penguin Chick talks started January 12! Visitors can attend to learn all about the chicks and their care daily at 2 pm. The Penguin Chick Talk is included with admission, and it's only available for a limited time!

Moving to the Avian Care Center

On the morning of January 12, the penguin chicks made their public debut! The chicks received a check-up by our Director of Veterinary Medicine, Dr. Pilar Fish, who pronounced the fluffy chicks to be healthy and thriving. The first chick, which hatched on December 16, weighed in at 23 ounces. The second chick, which hatched on December 20, weighed 22 ounces. The chicks are both about the same weight as a regulation-sized basketball, which also weighs 22 ounces!

Afterwards, the chicks moved to the Avian Care Center window, where guests can see them up close and watch them grow. Both chicks are growing fast! The chicks are both being hand-reared by National Aviary staff.


First Checkup!

On January 3, the chicks had their first check up by our veterinary team and were moved inside, safe and warm with their parents, Bette and Sidney. All the penguins in our colony were moved indoors on the same day due to prolonged and extreme winter weather. The two chicks are eating well and growing fast!

Can’t wait to meet them? Starting January 12, you can see the adorable chicks in our Avian Care Center window and during daily chick talks! 

Eagerly awaiting the arrival of the chicks

On December 5, the National Aviary installed a high resolution infrared penguin nest cam, presented by Peoples Natural Gas, to give the world a unique view inside the nesting cave. The camera and installation services were generously donated by M&P Security Solutions, Inc., a veteran-owned business serving the Greater Pittsburgh Area. The public were invited to watch the nest online at


Right on time, chick #1 hatched late on Saturday, December 16. On the morning of December 17, one of the National Aviary’s penguin specialists noticed movement on the camera.

Over the next few days the penguin parents continued to incubate the second egg, simultaneously keeping the first chick warm and well fed.

On Wednesday, December 20, the second egg hatched. National Aviary staff received visual confirmation of the new chick via the nest camera. presented by:

The parents of our new African Penguin chicks, Sidney and Bette, have been a bonded pair at the National Aviary since the summer of 2010. 

Here are the proud parents:


Help support critical conservation work!

Welcome our new bundles of joy and help cover the care these little penguins require to be healthy chicks. Your gift today will go towards our Avian Conservation Fund that acts to support highly regarded breeding programs, conservation, and public awareness programs that benefit African Penguins and other important species.