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Penguins Begin Annual Nesting Season at Shedd Aquarium

Unique Glimpse at the Life Cycle of Penguin Colony During Weeks-Long Nesting Season

March 21, 2022

A group of penguins crowd around a pile of rocks, picking them up

The annual nesting season has begun for the penguin colony at Shedd Aquarium, which is part of the natural life cycle for the birds. Changes to the daily light cycle and addition of nest-building materials signal the start of the weeks-long process for the two species that reside at Shedd – rockhopper and Magellanic penguins. Guests who visit the aquarium can observe the penguin colony and get an up-close look at this season to potentially see birds building their nests, attracting mates or paired up in their prepared nests.

Typically, the male penguins will build the nests to attract a female or reinforce an existing pair bond. Rockhoppers carefully select and haul rocks one-by-on in their beak to create their nests. A male is not above stealing better-looking stones from others in the breeding colony. If nesting results in an egg or even a chick, the bonded pair share responsibilities incubating, brooding and feeding.

Shedd’s penguin breeding program contributes to a conservation effort among partners accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in a cooperatively managed Species Survival Plan for rockhopper penguins, which are listed as vulnerable by ICUN. To support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care, guests can plan a visit, become a member or purchase a copy of the aquarium’s new children’s book focused on rockhopper penguins Edward and Annie.

VISUALS: High resolution photos and broadcast-quality footage are available for download:
Photo credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez and Lana Gonzalez