Wednesday Zen Moment: Endangered African penguin hatches at Toronto Zoo

Written by on April 3, 2019 in Critter Love - No comments

It’s too soon to tell whether it’s a boy or girl, but the Toronto Zoo’s newest addition is 100 per cent adorable.

The zoo announced Tuesday an endangered African penguin chick hatched on March 1. And while he — or she — continues to grow, the public won’t be able to see the chick.

“African penguins do not show sexual dimorphism, so until bloodwork is performed by our Wildlife Health Team, we won’t know the gender,” the zoo explained.

The chick’s family tree is a bit complicated.

The egg was laid by penguin pair, Ellie and Chupa, and is the third chick for them.

But the parents are “fairly inexperienced,” the zoo said, adding they have only raised one chick themselves.

And, it wasn’t easy.

“So this time around Wildlife Care made the decision to call upon veteran penguin parents, Flap and Shaker, to help out,” the zoo said. “After allowing Ellie and Chupa to incubate for the first couple weeks, the egg was pulled and given to penguin pair, Flap and Shaker, who finished incubation and continued raising the chick after it hatched.”

Incubation usually takes just over a month, and then chicks stay with their parents in the nest for another three weeks.

The African penguin chick hatched March 1. Toronto Zoo/Facebook

The babies become independent quickly.

Around day 21, zookeepers typically begin the hand-rearing process.

Right now, keepers are teaching the chick to be fed fish and to get on a scale for daily weight checks.

“Next week, keepers will be prepping the chick for its first swimming lesson,” the zoo said. “Our hope is to have the chick being ready to ‘fledge’ and join our colony at around 80 days.”

The unnamed chick is also all kinds of cute.

It is also very rare.

Of the 18 penguin species, the African penguin is considered among the most endangered.

In a century, the wild population has been cut by more than 97 per cent as climate change and over-fishing has hurt its food supply. Disease, predators and oil spills have also hurt the species.

“Recent estimates suggest, there could be as few as than 25,000 breeding pairs left in the wild,” the zoo said.

Photo Toronto Zoo/Facebook

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Dawn Walton

Recovering newspaper reporter.

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