Nesting season has begun for the penguin colony at Shedd Aquarium, as the birds start gathering their materials and pairing off to build the perfect nest. The animal care team signals the start of the weeks-long nest-building process by adapting the daily light cycle and providing the materials, including an array of lavender sprigs, fig branches, grape vines and pebbles. Both Magellanic and rockhopper penguins at the aquarium began seeking out the best stones and sturdy twigs to attract a mate or settle in with their habitual mate in their nest.
The nesting period provides a unique peek into a penguin’s life cycle, as they carry out the natural behavior of nest building and pairing. Should nesting result in an egg, the bonded pairs would then take turns sitting on the nests night and day to keep the egg warm.
It is expected that eggs may start to be seen at the end of March into May. While not every egg laid by the penguins is fertile, last year, two sibling chicks – Calista and Carmen – joined the penguin colony following the nesting and mating season
While the building is closed to the public, animal care teams have remained onsite prepping food, cleaning habitats, providing training and enrichment, and much more. During nesting season, caretakers will sometimes deliver food to the penguins while they remain in their nests. The caretaker uses these visits and video cameras to continually observe the birds, ensuring they are getting the appropriate nutrition and that nesting partners are equally splitting nesting duties.
For guests looking to learn more about the penguins at Shedd and get a behind-the-scenes look at their care can do so utilizing Google Expeditions to virtually visit the penguin habitat. The free virtual reality experience allows users from around the globe to see 360-degree images of the aquarium’s animal hospital, kitchen spaces and of course, the penguin exhibit.
To support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care, guests can symbolically adopt a penguin and get a plush, photo of the animal and regular monthly updates on the birds. The public can also support the aquarium by making a donation or signing up to become a member.
VISUALS: High resolution photos and broadcast-quality footage are available for download:
Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez