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Maryland Zoo Kick Off African Penguin Breeding Season

Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team

Date: November 6, 2021 11:45 pm

Maryland Zoo African Penguin Chicks

An African penguin chick hatched at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore have commenced their breeding season for the African penguin with three chicks hatching at the zoo's Penguin Coast habitat. The first chick hatched on October 25th, followed by another on October 27th and the final one on October 31st 2021.

“What a welcome way to start our 54th year working with African penguins. We are always excited to watch the colony grow, and happy to announce that three chicks have hatched already this breeding season,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We expect to hatch 10 chicks during this breeding season, but of course that is all dependent on the penguins.” 

Breeding season begins in September and runs till February. “Right now it is spring in South Africa, when these penguins would normally begin breeding in their colonies,” continued Kottyan. “Although it is fall here, we like to mimic the breeding season so we can monitor the chicks as they hatch and grow during our winter, and then they make their debut as juveniles when temperatures warm up in April.”

Recommendations on which pairs of penguins will breed are made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). 

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The chicks will spend their first three weeks of life with their parents who will regurgitate food for them. Keepers and vets monitor the chicks during this period. At three weeks old they are removed for the nest so they can learn that humans are the source of their food.

This step means that keepers will be able to provide long-term care for these animals including feeding, health exams and medical care.

Maryland Zoo have a long history with the African penguin over 50 years. In 1996 they won the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the AZA.

With their three newest arrivals there are now 111 African penguins at the Maryland Zoo. Unfortunately in the wild this species is facing sharp declines.

Maryland Zoo African Penguin Chicks

An African penguin chick hatched at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore

Photo Credit: The Maryland Zoo

Learn more about African Penguins here – African Penguin Fact File | The Animal Facts

Learn more about the Maryland Zoo on their website – Maryland Zoo

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