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Idaho Falls Zoo is happy to announce a new endangered African penguin chick has hatched and is the first to hatch at the zoo since 2016!
"As African penguins are endangered, the chick is an important ambassador for the conservation of its species," says Zoo Director David Pennock. The bird (whose gender is not yet known) hatched on June 28 and is now being hand-raised by animal care staff in the penguin building.
African penguin chicks at the zoo are cared for by their parents for the first three weeks and then the keepers bring the chicks into the penguin building where zoo representatives feed and care for them until the penguin has grown enough to rejoin the colony. The human contact helps ensure as the birds grow they will be comfortable around people as adults. A good comfort level around humans is important as it makes it possible for their keepers to hand feed them twice daily and provide all their medical care needs.
The chick is the result of a breeding recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSPs are captive breeding management programs which help ensure the survival of select species in zoos and aquariums (most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild).
Because the Idaho Falls Zoo is accredited by AZA, the breeding of endangered species like the African penguins in accredited institutions is advised by a national SSP developed and reviewed regularly by a team of experts from across the country. The purpose of the program is to monitor African penguins at AZA accredited zoos to ensure their well-being, overall species' genetic health and survival.
Through an automatic contribution from admissions, your zoo has raised nearly $100,000 for local and global conservation programs in the last three years in the Quarters for Conservation program. African penguins is one of the species helped through the program. While the chick will not be viewable in Penguin Cove until about 6-8 weeks old, it can be seen on a newly-installed "penguin cam" located near the exhibit viewing windows. We invite you to come to the zoo to meet the newest addition!
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Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Bud Cranor.