The advent of February brought three small, but notable additions to Mystic Aquarium. Weighing in at 98, 61, and 65 grams, three African penguin chicks hatched on the first three days of the month. Since their formal introduction, husbandry staff monitor the development and growth of each penguin through regular observations and visual exams. During these exams, the chick is weighed to ensure it is gaining the appropriate amount of weight over time. Our staff also perform “tent test” to check the penguin hydrations. The chick’s skin is gently grasped for a few seconds then released. If the skin quickly returns to its normal position, the penguin chick is likely hydrated. Our veterinarians also attend these morning exams for additional health assessments.
Since the snow days in early February, the three chicks rapidly grew, and all three penguins weigh in around one kilogram after one month! In comparison, the heaviest check grew more than ten times its original weight, and the smallest chick grew more than 16 times its original weight. We can confidently say that mother and father feed them admirably! In the coming weeks, the responsibility to nourish shifts to the penguin husbandry staff, and the process of weaning begins. The three penguins will no longer rely on receiving food directly from their parents but will be trained to eat fish whole from trainers.
Mystic Aquarium and our community are immensely thankful for these chicks to join the penguin colony and the broader African penguin population. As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s Species Survival Plan, these penguins ensure a future for this endangered species and enables us to continue to learn more about African penguins to support conservation efforts for their wild counterparts.