Second African Penguin Chick Hatches at National Aviary


NEST CAM CAPTURES EARLY MOMENTS receiving 25,000 views per day and climbing

December 19, 2014 (Pittsburgh, PA) – Twenty five thousand viewers a day have been keeping watch on the National Aviary’s penguin nest cam awaiting the arrival of a second African Penguin chick. This morning at 10:13 National Aviary staff spotted the second chick on the nest cam for the first time. Based on nesting behavior, National Aviary penguin specialists have confirmed that the second chick hatched yesterday, December 18, right on schedule.

A high-definition infrared camera is providing an intimate view inside the penguin’s nesting cave. The first chick hatched on Monday, December 15, and cam viewers got their first look at the little one on Tuesday. Recorded footage shows the first scenes of penguin father Sidney opening his beak for a fuzzy headed, fast moving chick. This morning the camera caught a quick glimpse of a second small beak poking through the leaves toward its parents in search of food. The recorded footage has been slowed down to allow viewers to share in these first precious moments.

When African Penguin chicks hatch, they are just larger than a golf ball in size, and can be difficult to spot. By now, the first chick is about the size of a plum and can be regularly spotted on the cam being fed by its parents. Penguin chicks are born with a yolk ac in their abdomens, which provides nutrition. Once its yolk sac dissolves, within 24-36 hours, an African Penguin chick needs to be fed even more often than newborn humans, as often as once every hour or two. The parents partially digested fish directly into the hatchling’s mouth; sometimes placing their open beak completely over the chick’s tiny head. As the chicks grow, cam viewers will be able to see more and more of them in the coming days.

The chicks will be examined by a National Aviary veterinarian just before the New Year. The vet will quickly check each chick’s eyes, mouth, lungs, heart and body. Each will then be quickly weighed and placed back in the nest. The entire exam happens in just a couple minutes time to ensure the chicks don’t get cold and to minimize any stress to the penguin parents.

The sex of African Penguins can only be determined by DNA so a feather sample will be collected during their medical exam and sent for analysis; it will be a few weeks before results are known.

The National Aviary has not yet decided how or when it will name the new penguins, though it will likely involve the public in some way.

The National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit is home to 17 African Penguins; these two make numbers 18 and 19. African Penguins are a critically endangered species, with less than 20,000 remaining 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.

If all goes as anticipated, the penguin chicks will remain in the nest for the first three to four weeks. They will then be moved inside to be hand-reared by National Aviary staff. This special upbringing will ensure they are ready to fulfill their future roles as ambassadors for their species in the National Aviary’s educational and interactive programs.

The African Penguin nest camera was conceived, planned and installed in just 10 days’ time, launching to the public on Friday, December 12. The camera and installation were provided by M&P Security Solutions, LLC.

The public is invited to watch the cam at, and visitors to the National Aviary can see the cave and catch glimpses of parents Sidney and Bette. Due to the depth of the cave, small size of the chicks, and protective nature of the parents, the chicks can only be seen from the camera. The National Aviary has created a baby penguin gift registry to help support the penguins’ care. Learn more and get updates on their growth at or like the National Aviary on Facebook.


About the National Aviary
The National Aviary is America’s only independent indoor nonprofit zoo dedicated exclusively to birds. Located in West Park on Pittsburgh’s historic North Side, the National Aviary’s diverse collection comprises 500 birds representing more than 150 species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through exhibits create an intimate, up-close interaction between visitors and free-flying birds, including opportunities to hand-feed and to meet many species rarely found in zoos anywhere else in the world. Hours of operation are 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. daily. For admission rates and more information visit

Robin Weber
Director of Marketing & Communications
Office: 412-258-9435
Mobile: 412-215-9199