New African Penguin Chick Duo!

It takes two… more African Penguin chicks, that is!

Exciting Hatchings for an Endangered Species at the National Aviary

In 2022, the National Aviary announced the hatching of Pierogi, an exciting new addition to the Penguin Point African Penguin colony. Just a little over a year later, we are thrilled to share that Pierogi’s biological parents, Patrick and her mate, Owen, have hatched two additional African Penguin chicks! Pierogi and his new siblings mark an additional spark of hope for a species that is increasingly experiencing population declines in the wild.

Because of the critical importance of each and every hatching for this endangered species, Pierogi was raised by Patrick and Owen’s colony mates, Sidney and Bette, who have so far fledged 10 chicks at the National Aviary. This time around, Patrick and Owen incubated their two eggs inside of a Penguin Point nesting cave for about a month and the chicks hatched on November 5 and 9.  An excellent genetic match, they are already showing strong signs of being dedicated penguin parents. The National Aviary’s expert animal care team has been observing their feeding, brooding, and preening behaviors, and can see that these chicks are growing and developing well in their care, now in a behind-the-scenes habitat so that they can be closely monitored by the veterinary team.

One chick during a weigh-in

Healthy Development

This adorable duo has grown quickly, with regular weigh-in’s showing both chicks are thriving!

First Weigh-in:

  • Hatchling One: 211g (7.44 oz.): roughly the size of an avocado.
  • Hatchling Two: 159g (5.60 oz.): the size of a large lemon.

Second Weigh-in: Both DOUBLED in Weight!

  • Hatchling One: 520g, (18.34 oz.): larger than a standard NFL football.
  • Hatchling Two: 432g, (15.24 oz.): the size of an MLB baseball.

Third Weigh-in: Another Big Jump!

  • Hatchling One: 1035g (36.5 oz.): a little bigger than a cantaloupe!
  • Hatchling Two: 900g (31.7 oz.): about the size of a bag of sugar!

Fourth Weigh-in: Both QUADTRUPLATED in Weight!

  • Hatchling One: 1686g (58.9 oz.): about the same weight as a two-liter soda bottle.
  • Hatchling Two: 1461g (51.6 oz.): a little bigger than the size of an average adult human brain.

Fifth Weigh-in: Both are Adult-sized!

  • Hatchling One: 3345g (118 oz.): a little heavier than the weight of a standard brick.
  • Hatchling Two: 2805g (98.9 oz.): a little lighter than the weight of a standard brick.
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Adorable duo at their third weigh-in
African Penguin Chicks during their fourth weigh-in at about a month of age.
The chicks during their fourth weigh-in

African Penguins reach their adult size at about three months old. They generally grow to be about 18 inches tall and can weigh up to 10 pounds. African Penguins are monomorphic, meaning males and females are visually similar; the Aviary veterinary team will conduct a DNA feather test on both chicks to determine their sex once they reach adult size. 

Importance of this Hatching

The National Aviary leads the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program for African Penguins, which works with colleagues around the world to identify and address the short-term and long-term challenges that are plaguing the species. Due to the overharvesting of fish, disasters like oil spills, climate change, and lack of appropriate places for existing penguins to nest, it is predicted that African Penguins could be functionally extinct in the wilds of Southern Africa by 2035.

How We Help

Today, less than 3% of the historic African Penguin population exists, with only about 9,000 pairs remaining in the wild. The ever-growing African Penguin colony that resides at the Aviary has allowed us to implement new and innovate ways to promote our conversation efforts, such as making use of artificial nesting burrows onsite, offering additional nesting opportunities to our colony. With this research in hand, the National Aviary, in collaboration with partner organizations, has been able to provide 1,500 artificial nesting burrows throughout six Southwest African colonies.

The National Aviary conducts international conservation work here and in the field. Learn more here

Parents, Patrick (female) and Owen.

The National Aviary efforts to conserve the African Penguin and other species, are made possible with the support of people like you. All donations received bring us one step closer to completing our conservation goals.

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