CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WATE) — The Tennessee Aquarium has a cute pair of new residents.
Two gentoo penguin chicks hatched in the Penguins’ Rock area of the aquarium recently.
The staff at the aquarium says the two chicks have been growing like weeds. Based on weekly weigh-ins and checkups by veterinary and animal care specialists, the chicks’ weight gain is well above average. That robust growth is a clear sign the chicks are being well cared for, says veterinarian Chris Keller.
“This year, in particular, the chicks have reflected excellent parenting from their moms and dads and have gained extremely well,” Keller said. “It’s pretty impressive. This particular crop has done as well as any we’ve had so far.”
The baby birds represent a pair of firsts for the Tennessee Aquarium. One of the chicks is the offspring of parents — Roxie and Beaker — that hatched and were raised here themselves.
“This is the first time our chicks here have had chicks,” Senior Aviculturist Loribeth Lee said.
The second chick is the offspring of Pebbles and Nipper, who also happens to be the father of Beaker (the first chick’s dad).
The aquarium has successfully hatched 24 chicks since 2009, an impressive number for a colony of 19 birds. Over the years, some of the birds hatched at the Tennessee Aquarium have been sent to other facilities to ensure the population of penguins in human care are healthy and genetically robust, Lee says.
The chicks are about halfway to fledging, when they will leave the nest. The chicks will begin to develop adult plumage in the coming weeks and could prepare for their first “swim test” in a backup area by mid-August. By that point, they will be as tall, if not as heavy, as their parents, Lee says.
The chicks’ genders are still a mystery and won’t be revealed until the results of an annual blood test are returned as part of a yearly colony-wide checkup this fall.
Penguin fans can keep track of the rapidly growing chicks and digitally observe their interactions with their parents, other birds and animal care specialists by visiting tnaqua.org/animals-exhibits/penguins-rock-cam/.
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