The online and on-site balloting took place between April 5 and April 11, shortly after the chick’s gender was announced. Out of 846 votes cast, Ruggles was the flippers-down winner with 311. Other possibilities were Gypsy, Lennox, Dawson and Marta.
The choices were gleaned by trainers poring over a map of the far Southern Hemisphere for names that reflect geographic areas where rockhoppers are found. Ruggles refers to Ruggles Bay and the facing Ruggles Island in the Falklands.
Her parents are Drake, named after Drake Passage in the Southern (or Antarctic) Ocean, and Magdalena, named for an island off Chile’s coast.
In addition to checking a name on the ballot, voting members could explain their choice.
Kathleen wrote, “Penguins are such characters—the way they move and interact with each other—that Ruggles just seems so appropriate.”
“I picked the name Ruggles,” offered Dean, “because the name is very cute and it’s kind of rugged, and most penguins look rugged when they come out of the water. And they live in rugged territory.”
Erin explained, “Our family thought it sounded like a fun, playful name, and we think she will be a fun, playful addition to the penguin family.”
While the chick won’t get a T-shirt or baseball cap with her name on it, you can pick her out from the rest of the rockhoppers by her wing i.d. tag with two orange bands as well as by her lack of chrome yellow “eyebrow” feathers, although as she approaches her first birthday on June 12, those quintessential rockhopper traits should be sprouting.
Check out her then and now photos. Ruggles weighed a mere 75 grams—a feather over 2½ ounces—when she hatched. Her most recently recorded weight was 4.9 pounds—pretty close to the average adult rockhopper weight of 5 pounds. Like the other penguins, Ruggles has been trained to hop onto a scale for easy weighing—not much of a leap for a naturally bouncy rockhopper.
Now that you can put a name to a face, be sure to visit Ruggles soon! At the same time, you’ll want to watch for this year’s breeding activity in both the rockhopper and Magellanic penguin colonies. The birds have been busy building nests with smooth river rocks and fabricated twigs provided by the penguin care team. It’s a raucous process as the birds stake out and defend their nesting sites.
Since 1991, Shedd has been part of a successful penguin breeding program. The aquarium has also sent its penguin experts to assist with international rescue and rehabilitation efforts. Due to disease and warming ocean temperatures, the wild rockhopper penguin population is listed as “vulnerable” by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.
—Karen Furnweger, web editor
A Shedd Aquarium membership includes so many benefits—unlimited free admission, sneak peeks of new animals and exhibits, exclusive discounts and offers, the chance to name a penguin chick and much more! Join today!