It’s a Boy! Rockhopper Penguin Chick Gender Confirmed as Molting Season Begins at Shedd

September 9, 2015

WHAT: As Shedd Aquarium’s three-month-old rockhopper penguin chick (Eudyptes chrysocome), is quickly reaching new development milestones, animal care staff has confirmed that the newest addition at the aquarium is a male. The gender was determined by a genetic test conducted during a recent check-up.

BACKGROUND: Hatched June 9, Chick  #23 – the 23rd rockhopper penguin to be hatched at Shedd – currently weighs about 4.5 pounds and has nearly reached full adult height of about one-and-a-half feet. According to animal care staff, the chick has been exploring on his own in his habitat – which houses both rockhopper and Magellanic penguins – learning to swim on his own as well as accept food from trainers after being fully weaned from being fed from his parents.

While the chick has grown considerably from its time as a hatchling that could fit in the palm of animal care staff’s hand, he will continue to gain weight and learn his way around the habitat. Guests will be able to distinguish the young chick from the other birds in the Polar Play Zone because it will be a year before he is in full adult plumage including the distinct yellow crest feathers of a rockhopper penguin.

The gender announcement comes as animal care staff prepares for molting season for its Magellanic and rockhopper penguins. During this time, the penguins will shed their waterproof feathers over the course of two to three weeks to make room for a brand new coat of feathers. The annual occurrence is natural, and typically happens at the conclusion of mating season.

Chick #23 is part of a successful breeding program at Shedd that was established in 1991. The aquarium has also sent its penguin experts to assist with international rescue and rehabilitation efforts for the critically endangered African penguin. 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. 

VISUALS: Photos and video are available for download here:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin

Shedd Aquarium is supported by the people of Chicago, the State of Illinois and the Chicago Park District. Shedd Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).

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