National Aviary Launches Online Auction to Name African Penguin Chick



February 26, 2015 (Pittsburgh, PA) – The National Aviary invites members of the public to help name one of their newest penguin chicks! Now through March 6, the National Aviary will host an online auction via eBay for naming the first penguin chick, a female, hatched December 15. In addition to choosing the chick’s name, the winner of this auction will be invited to visit the National Aviary with a handful of guests to meet the penguin chick, followed by a personal tour of the National Aviary.

For 27 days this past December and January, viewers from around the world tuned in to a live streaming nest cam for an intimate look inside the nesting cave of two of the National Aviary’s African Penguins. The high-definition infrared camera captured two penguins as they hatched and grew inside the cave under the care of penguin parents Sidney and Bette.

Now the chicks are almost fully grown. Their fuzzy, gray chick feathers have molted away, and they are showing off their black and white juvenile colors.

DNA tests determined that the first chick, hatched December 15, is a female, and the second chick, hatched December 18, is a male. The male has been named Happy by the National Aviary. The female chick needs a name!

“We’ve had a lot of fun with online auctions in the past. Auction winners have named penguins after loved ones or gifted the rights to name the penguin to a family member. It’s a meaningful experience, and the money raised helps both African Penguins and other endangered species at the National Aviary through our conservation and breeding programs,” says National Aviary Managing Director Cheryl Tracy.

More than 10,000 visitors have met the penguin chicks in person at the National Aviary’s Avian Care Center and during daily meet and greets. When these two chicks join the flock, the National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit, sponsored by Trib Total Media, will be home to nineteen African Penguins. This is the third set of chicks hatched at the National Aviary in the past three years, all to penguin parents Sidney and Bette.

African Penguins are a critically endangered species, with fewer than 20,000 remaining in the wild. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) Species Survival Plan (SSP), the National Aviary’s penguins are part of an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African Penguins for future generations.

Hand-rearing the penguin chicks ensures they will be ready to fulfill their future roles as ambassadors for their species in the National Aviary’s educational and interactive programs. Every year members of the Aviary’s African Penguin colony make over 100 visits to schools, libraries, and community events. Additionally, the penguins attend birthday parties, weddings, and other programs at the National Aviary. In 2014 alone, more than 1,800 people participated in penguin encounters that provide individuals and small groups the chance to get up close to the penguins, learning more about them from the trainers who know them best.

Media Contact:

Robin Weber
Director of Marketing & Communications