Posted February 2020
Look at the fuzzy new addition to the Zoo! Gentoo penguins, Oscar and Fiona, are the proud parents of a new chick, who hatched on December 25. The chick hasn’t been named yet, as a blood test is needed to determine the sex. This is Oscar and Fiona’s eighth chick, and both mom and dad alternate nest duties several times a day, taking turns feeding and caring for their new chick.
The new chick is currently off exhibit and this typically occurs at around one month old, but is different for every chick. The chicks are covered with fuzzy down feathers, which prevent them from swimming very well. While they are being weaned from their parents and learning to hand-feed from zookeepers, they go through the fledging phase in which adult plumage eventually replaces their “baby fuzz.”
The chick will remain off exhibit for safety reasons until it has fledged into adult, waterproof plumage. After this occurs, it will be reintroduced to the exhibit, gradually learning about the pool, feeding time, interacting with the other birds in the exhibit, and other important penguin things!
In the wild, Gentoo penguins can breed in colonies of nearly thousands of pairs and often construct their nests from rocks and anything else they can find in the harsh, Antarctic landscape. Fish and squid make up the bulk of their diet—Gentoos can make as many as 500 dives a day searching for food! Gentoos are a lot of fun to watch—our zookeepers describe them as very curious, active birds who are always up to something!
We will let visitors know when the chick is named and when it has returned to the exhibit.