Today was another busy day in pen 10! Other Mystic Aquarium staff who have had this opportunity have told me about their experiences at SANCCOB and about the hard work that is involved, but it’s difficult to truly understand until you are in the middle of it all.
To help you get a feel for what it’s like raising over 130 African penguin chicks here is the schedule of today’s routine:
7:45AM Morning meeting – everyone is assigned to their designated area for the day. There were three of us assigned to pen 10 today.
8:00AM The chicks receive their morning medications prescribed by SANCCOB’s veterinary staff. Penguins at their facility might receive eye drops, antibiotics, antifungals, topical treatments, bandage changes, and many others. The penguins are also weighed to track their growth and overall health. All penguins also receive Darrows, an electrolyte solution that helps with hydration and blood chemistries. We give this to each chick by opening their beaks and passing a stomach tube. This helps to ensure they receive all of the solution and it doesn’t end up in their lungs.
8:30AM Many of the chicks are provided their nebulization. Since birds are very susceptible to respiratory infections, nebulizing will help keep their lungs nice and healthy. As penguins are rotating through the nebulizer, older chicks that have all their waterproof feathers can go for their swim. This allows them to learn how to swim and condition their feathers, both of which are important for their survival.
9:00AM Just like back at Mystic Aquarium, there is a lot of cleaning to be done! It is time to thoroughly clean, disinfect and scrub all the mats floors and walls. This provides them with a healthy environment free of bacteria and mold.
9:30AM It is time to prepare breakfast. About 400 fish are individually sorted and thoroughly inspected. Each penguin will receive a multivitamin which is placed in the mouth of their fish. Chick formula is also drawn up in tubes for the penguins who weigh less than 2.0kg to provide them with the extra nutrients they need.
10:00AM Time for breakfast. Each penguin receives their multivitamin, is tubed formula if needed, and eats approximately three (3) fish.
11:00AM All fish bins, buckets, tubes and syringes are cleaned up and it’s time to prepare 130 syringes of fluids again.
12:00PM All penguins are tubed fluids once more. This time they are given water to keep them hydrated.
1:00PM Everything that has happened so far needs be recorded. Each penguin has their own records so we can record their weights, fish intake, fluid intake, medications received, and any changes in behavior or health. This ensures we are able to track the progress each bird makes while at SANCCOB. We also use this time to catch up on other cleaning and maintenance tasks around the facility. There are always endless piles of laundry and dishes to do, too!
2:30PM The day’s not over yet! It’s time to prepare the penguin’s lunch. The fish and formula are prepared all over again!
4:00PM This time all 130 chicks are tubed formula for an extra boost to their nutrition. Each penguin also eats approximately three (3) more fish.
05:00PM Things are wrapping up at pen 10. It’s time to clean the dishes, syringes, and tubes. We also lend a hand finishing the cleaning tasks and extra projects around the facility. Records are completed and everything is prepared for the following day.
6:30PM One last meeting – everyone gathers together one more time to report on how everything went in their respective areas today. All other areas were just as busy as us. And with that, it’s a wrap. Until tomorrow, that is, when it all starts all over again!