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New Arrivals: Shedd Welcomes Sibling Penguin Hatchlings

The Aquarium Provides a First Look at the Magellanic Chicks

May 22, 2019

A Magellanic penguin chick, its head comically large on its small fluffy body, rests tiredly in the palm of a Shedd veterinarian wearing a rubber glove.

A Magellanic penguin chick, covered in baby down and small enough to fit in an adult's hand, rests on a soft white towel as a veterinarian holds a stethoscope to its back.

A Magellanic penguin chick lies on a white towel, raising its large fluffy head with its beak open wide.

A tiny Magellanic penguin chick, covered in dark baby fluff, lifts its large bulbous head as it rests on a soft white towel in Shedd's Animal Hospital for its checkup.

Shedd Aquarium, a leader in animal care, welcomed two Magellanic penguin chicks (Spheniscus magellanicus) following the annual breeding season that began with nesting in late March. Both eggs were laid by the same pair of penguins - Chile and JR. Chick 420 hatched on Friday, May 17 and bonding began with the biological parents immediately, so the chick remains in the nest with both adults who will rear the young bird.

The second egg was given to a foster pair, Howard and Georgia, to raise. Chick 421 later hatched on Monday, May 20, and the pair have been taking turns feeding and incubating it like it was their own. Attending chicks is a full-time job with duties shared by both parents. By having the chicks raised by two different pairs, each chick gets individualized attention and the parenting birds all get additional experience as they learn how to best care for chicks.

“Having a chick successfully hatch from its egg is just the first of many milestones that we look for in these first few weeks, but our team is cautiously optimistic,” said Lana Gonzalez, manager of penguins and sea otters. “We’ll continue to monitor both chicks closely over the next few weeks, looking for consistent weight gain and to see how the parents are doing with sharing their responsibilities.”

Upon hatching, Chick 420 weighed 76 grams and Chick 421 weighed 64 grams. The animal care staff will monitor the birds from afar, with the help of cameras and sensors set up behind-the-scenes, stepping in only for quick check-ups and collecting weights for the chicks. Full growth is expected after two to three months, but until then penguin trainers will continue to monitor the hatchlings for additional milestones, as well as tracking vocalizations, hydration levels, grooming and more.

The newest arrivals are Shedd’s second and third Magellanic penguins born and bred here at the aquarium, after Nia, who just celebrated her first birthday earlier this month. Since some of the aquarium’s Magellanic penguins are just now reaching reproductive maturity and beginning to pair off and participate in breeding season, the arrival of another Magellanic penguin chick was increasingly likely.

BACKGROUND: Late March, the 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 and videos of the new chick are available for download:

Photo Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez
Video Credit: ©Shedd Aquarium/Sam Cejtin