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Penguin Chicks Take First Swim at Shedd Aquarium

The four hatchlings tested the waters with their new feathers, important milestone before joining the colony on exhibit

August 05, 2021

Magellanic penguin chick Nia swims with her parents, still covered in downy baby feathers.

Shedd Aquarium’s four Magellanic penguin chicks have officially left the nest and reached important milestones before they join the full penguin colony in the Polar Play Zone and are viewable to the public. The chicks recently fledged their fluffy feathers for their juvenile waterproof feathers and had their first introduction to water for their first swim. While penguins don’t get airborne, they do fly through the water, flapping with strong solid wings.

In addition to their first swim, the penguin chicks have been reaching additional developmental milestones, including eating fish, socializing, and exploring new spaces around the aquarium, and more. The chicks are also starting to build relationships with the animal care team.

Regular check-ups with the aquarium’s animal care team show that birds are hitting all their growth targets and a test of biological samples taken from the chicks’ eggshells will help determine their sexes since penguins’ reproductive organs are internal. Once the sex of the birds is determined, the aquarium will share any potential naming plans for the birds and the expected timing for when guests can see the newest arrivals.

Although these four chicks may not be out in the exhibit yet, the public can plan a visit to the aquarium to see the rest of the penguin colony or attend a virtual or onsite penguin encounter to come face-to-face with the birds. The public can also support Shedd’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care by symbolically adopting a penguin to receive a plush, photo of the animal and regular updates on the birds.

BACKGROUND: This spring, Magellanic penguins began creating nests and preparing for the breeding season after animal care experts shifted the light cycle and scattered nesting materials in the Polar Play Zone exhibit. This new chick arrived on Saturday, May 29, following hatchlings on Thursday, April 29, Wednesday, May 5, and Wednesday, May 12.

VISUALS: High-resolution video of the penguin chicks’ first swim is available here: https://personal.filesanywhere.com/fs/v.aspx?v=8e6c628c5f6176b4a2ab.
Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium