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Closer Look at Fuzzy New Arrivals, Four Magellanic Penguin Chicks, at Shedd Aquarium

The hatchlings are being reared by adult birds and hitting critical milestones

June 16, 2020

Baby penguin chick sits on a fluffy white towel to be weighed.

While Shedd Aquarium temporarily closed its doors, the penguins have been busy taking field trips, building nests and now welcoming four Magellanic penguin chicks (Spheniscus magellanicus) following the annual breeding season. The first chicks hatched on Monday, May 18, and the final chick joined on Thursday, May 21, with all the new arrivals weighing in around 66-85 grams upon hatch. All four chicks are being raised by adults who feed and incubate the baby birds. With four new arrivals, this is the most Magellanic penguins born and bred at the aquarium following the annual breeding season.

The animal care team conducts quick daily check-ups with the hatchlings to monitor growth and ensure all four chicks continue to hit critical milestones. Since hatching, the birds now weigh between 1200 and 2000 grams. This consistent weight gain lets us know that they are getting important nutrients to help them grow. Full growth is expected after two to three months, but until then caretakers will continue to monitor the hatchlings for additional milestones, as well as tracking vocalizations, hydration levels, grooming and more.

As the chicks continue to grow, they are getting more mobile and curious, so they’ve started cautiously exploring their surroundings. While the hatchlings are not ready for field trips around the aquarium, there’s been initial socialization as well – both with their caretakers and the other chicks.

In the coming months, the animal care team will determine the sex of the chicks, and then the hatchlings will get named before making a public debut on exhibit.

While Shedd Aquarium has been closed to the public since mid-March, our animal care efforts have not slowed down. To mitigate the financial impacts of the closure, the public can support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care by symbolically adopting a penguin and get a plush, photo of the animal and regular updates on the birds. The public can also support the aquarium by donating to its reopening campaign, It’s Time, or signing up to become a member.

BACKGROUND: This spring, Magellanic and rockhopper penguins began creating nests and preparing for breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the Polar Play Zone exhibit.

VISUALS: Photos can be found here:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez