NEW ORLEANS – On Feb. 12, 2021, an endangered African penguin chick hatched at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. This makes the 56th chick hatched at the Aquarium since 1991.
The chick is the offspring of Hubig (mother) and Ocio (father). Hubig and Ocio are also parents to Zion, the African penguin chick hatched at the Aquarium last year.
“We are very excited to welcome this chick to our African penguin colony,” said Audubon Aquarium’s Curator of Birds William Robles. “Each new chick hatched at the Aquarium plays an integral part in keeping this endangered species thriving and educating guests about the threats that their counterparts face in the wild.”
African penguin eggs are incubated on average between 38 to 42 days, but this egg hatched on day 37 of incubation. The Aquarium’s Aviculture team did a thorough health check on the chick and closely monitored the parents for feeding and parental behavior by nest camera.
The chick spent its first 21 days being raised by its parents and is now being hand-reared by the Aviculture team in order to habituate it to participating in its own daily care. Care staff will hand-rear the chick behind-the-scenes for about two months before starting the introduction processes to the rest of the colony.
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, a collaborative conservation effort among AZA-accredited institutions such as Audubon Aquarium, recommended Hubig and Ocio for breeding based on their genetic compatibility.
The Aquarium is a founding member of AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program, which focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited facilities to save endangered species.
African penguins are a SAFE priority species due to their decreasing population in the wild, which has gone from 141,000 breeding pairs in 1956 to only about 25,000 today. AZA facilities have joined forces to develop various penguin conservation projects from improving oil spill disaster response protocols to constructing artificial nests in order to address declines in penguin populations caused by overfishing, habitat degradation, and oil spills.
The African penguins at the Aquarium serve as ambassadors, teaching guests about the plight of this species in the wild. Audubon is committed to helping create experiences that spark individual action and empower visitors to leave the natural world better than they found it.