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Meet the new baby penguin at OdySea Aquarium

Posted at 10:03 AM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 01:36:51-04

The animal kingdom at OdySea Aquarium has expanded by one sharp-looking fluff ball.

An African black-footed penguin chick pecked its way out of its shell on April 25, which coincidentally happens to be World Penguin Day, staffers said.

Watch the video for a special meet-and-greet with the penguin.

It marks the first penguin naturally hatched at the aquarium, said Jenn Hutchins, an animal care specialist at OdySea who overseas the penguins and reptiles.

At birth, the chick weighed between 60 and 80 grams, which is the equivalent weight of 60-80 paper clips, she said. It could also fit into the palm of an adult human hand.

Three weeks later, the not-yet-named penguin is nearly three pounds and living with mom and dad in a protected part of the exhibit (which guests can see).

The new family's home, or nest, is on the left side of OdySea's Penguin exhibit and is protected by a clear Plexiglass frame. The frame protects the chick from curious neighbors and allows mom and dad to do their jobs.

"If you do see our nice little chick coming on out and checking you out through the [Plexiglass], great. If not, it's okay. Mom (Prince) and dad (Tux) are doing a great job at taking care of it inside the nest," Hutchins said.

Here are a few other fast facts we learned about the chick:

  • African black-footed penguins have been on IUCN's "endangered" list 2010. Prior to that, they were listed as "vulnerable." Hutchins said pollution, habitat encroachment and global warming are reasons why their natural habitats have declined.
  • OdySea's penguins enjoy Capelin, Herring and Atlantic Silverside.
  • To start, the chick will eat 20 percent, sometimes more, of its body weight a day. After three weeks, the chick weighed about three pounds.
  • After two to three months, the baby penguin will molt its feathers into its juvenile plumage, which is waterproof. Swim lessons may start after that.
  • The animal care team is making sure the chick vocalizes to let mom and dad know its hungry, while also making sure the chick's eyes and ears are clear.
  • They are also monitoring mom and dad to make sure they're eating enough; that mom is feeding the chick and dad is guarding the nest.