WATCH NOW: New African Penguin Juveniles Join the Penguin Point Colony at the National Aviary PLUS Name Reveal!

May 23, 2024 (Pittsburgh, Penn.) – The National Aviary is excited to announce that their two youngest African Penguins, a male and a female chick who hatched last year, officially joined the colony at Penguin Point! They ALSO have new names, thanks to generous donors. Juveniles Dave (formerly Hatchling 1) and Rita Mae (aka Hatchling 2) are thriving alongside their older sibling, Pierogi, who visited them behind the scenes before their introduction to help build their social skills. Guests can visit the dynamic duo and the rest of the colony at the National Aviary daily from 10 am to 5 pm.

Their Story

In October 2023, parents, Patrick and Owen began incubating two eggs in a Penguin Point nesting cave. In early November, both chicks hatched, signifying a moment of progress for their species, which are critically endangered in the wild. The chicks then moved to a behind-the-scenes habitat with their parents, making their first-time parent-rearing attempt. Patrick and Owen proved to be dedicated penguin parents and the chicks developed into healthy juveniles while under their care.

However, there was still much these young feathered friends had to learn before joining their colony mates.

Their Development

“The first indicator of the two being ready to join the colony was their waterproof feathers starting to come in and being fully developed, which ensures they can comfortably swim and waddle over the habitat’s rocky cliffs,” says Chris Gaus, Assistant Manager of Animal Care. Within the next year to 18 months, their sleek grayish-black juvenile feathers will start to transform into the classic black and white plumage we have come to know and love, as the two go through their first catastrophic molt! In addition, the duo received regularly scheduled social visits from their older sibling Pierogi and also learned how to feed on sustainably sourced fish provided by our expert care staff.”

Their Names

Dave was named by Aviary supporters Jacklyn and Josh Banyas as well as Megan and Kevin Wolfe in honor of Jacklyn and Megan’s dad, Dave McCluskey. Rita Mae was named by Aviary supporters Michael and Lisa Hart in loving memory of their aunt, Rita Mae Caste. The National Aviary is incredibly grateful for this amazing support.

An Endangered Species

African Penguins are Endangered, it is estimated that they will be functionally extinct in South Africa by 2035. Dave, Rita Mae, and the colony are a part of an important Species Survival Plan® that aims to tackle the conservation challenges the species face. As the leader of the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction for African Penguins program, the National Aviary works with colleagues around the world to identify and address these short-term and long-term challenges. 

Come Visit!

Guests can come to see the Penguin Point colony and learn about the other 500 plus birds and mammals who call the National Aviary home, during their upcoming new summer seasonal theme, Colors in Flight, starting this Memorial Day weekend! For more information please visit



The one and only National Aviary is located on Pittsburgh’s historic Northside since its founding in 1952. The National Aviary is home to more than 500 birds representing more than 150 diverse species from around the world, many of them threatened or endangered in the wild. The National Aviary’s large walk-through habitats 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.


In The News

See All News

Pa. aviary announces new member of ‘extinct-in-the-wild’ species | PennLive

Here’s some wonderful news with regards to wildlife conservation efforts. A bird that has been considered extinct for decades has gained a fresh hatchling.

Read More »

Faces of the Valley: O’Hara’s Sarah Jones parlays passion for teaching into Volunteer of the Year Award from National Aviary | TribLive

O’Hara resident Sarah Jones calls herself a lucky duck. For her efforts, Jones, was named the Aviary’s 2023 Volunteer of the Year.

Read More »

National Aviary mourning loss of its first penguin, Stanley | WPXI

Stanley, who was named for the Stanley Cup, joined the family flock at the National Aviary in 2001 when he was two months old.

Read More »

Two Eurasian Eagle-Owl Chicks Hatch at National Aviary | National Aviary

A Eurasian Eagle-Owl, one of the largest owl species in the world, has hatched at the National Aviary.

Read More »