Mystic, Conn. (May 14, 2020): Today’s 11am Facebook LIVE stream made a splash as Mystic Aquarium’s sole African penguin chick, Purple/Pink, took its first swim; one of many rites of passage as the three-month old continues to grow and reach vital milestones.
Facebook fans who tuned into the Aquarium’s daily live video enjoyed a front-row-seat as the chick explored the Penguin Pavilion, taking in the sights, sounds and sensations of its habitat before it slid into the water for its very first swim. Assistant Supervisor of African Penguins, Tracy Camp, narrated the chick’s adventure, providing viewers with background information on the chick, various updates on its development thus far and other fascinating details about African penguins and their adaptations.
“Our daily Facebook LIVE videos are meant to be cute and fun, but we want them to be educational, too,” said Camp. “We love what we do and what we know – we just want to share all of our knowledge with you!”
For the first time in the Aquarium’s history, the team is breaking from their standard naming convention, which is based on the colored beads on each penguin’s wing. In an effort to provide its community with a deeper connection to the chick, the Aquarium has invited fans to join in a naming contest to provide Purple/Pink with a more conventional name.
These unprecedented times encouraged an unprecedented opportunity: Back in March, Mystic Aquarium launched a special contest inviting fans to submit ideas for a more conventional name for the chick. The penguin’s first swim marks the last call for those interested in participating.
The chick, which is part of Mystic Aquarium’s species conservation efforts, is the 59th penguin to join the colony. With that in mind, Mystic Aquarium is asking participants to make a donation of $59 in order to submit their suggested name at MysticAquarium.org/name-the-chick and are encouraged to keep in mind that Purple/Pink’s gender is still unknown.
“African penguins have no external characteristics to distinguish males from females,” added Camp, “so we need to conduct a DNA test when the chick is a bit older to see if we’ll be adding a pink or blue bead to that bracelet,” added Camp.
While each submission will be considered, only one name can win. However, each participant is a winner as each $59 donation helps support the Aquarium’s mission programs in conservation, education and research.
The African penguin, one of the Aquarium’s most beloved animals, is also at the highest risk of extinction compared to other species. Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in 2010, the wild population of the African penguin could vanish within our lifetime.
In addition to being cute, this Purple/Pink is incredibly important as Mystic Aquarium works with colleagues from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) as part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to ensure the long-term survival of African penguins in accredited zoos and aquariums. Mystic Aquarium was a founding member of the African penguin SSP in 1995. This species, along with other endangered species in our care, will be highlighted tomorrow in recognition of Endangered Species Day. Tune in to Mystic Aquarium’s social media channels tomorrow to learn more.