Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Update from Penguins' Rock

Gentoo chick being cared for in backup area of "Penguins' Rock."

Macaroni parents Paulie and Chaos set the gold standard for penguin baby care and the macaroni baby isn't so little any more. In fact, visitors almost do a double take when they realize that the bird inside the acrylic playpen is in fact the baby.

But gentoo parents Bug and Big T were not as diligent as Paulie and Chaos. Penguin keepers began noticing that the parents did not appear to be feeding the chick as often as they should have been. This past weekend the chick was pulled from the exhibit to be fed and hydrated by Aquarium staff. Amy Graves reports that the chick was returned to its parents yesterday afternoon. Apparently they are feeding the baby a little better now, but Graves said they will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

"Paulie and Chaos were an example of the best-case scenario," explained Graves. "They were able to care for their chick while on exhibit with the rest of the colony." That not only helps the pair become better parents in the future, but also helps give the chick a "road map" for the future.

In some ways, the behavior of Bug and Big T has been expected. Both are young, first-time parents. Graves says that Bug was hand-raised which could explain why her parental instincts are not fully developed. "Something may click with these two and they might start taking better care of their chick now," said Graves.

The window for Poncho and Peep's two eggs to hatch opens this Friday. We still do not know if either of their eggs or the two eggs in Zeus and Pebbles nest are viable or not.

Finally, Nipper and Flower continue to work in and around their nest. Nipper was seen laying in their nest and scooping out a depression several times late last week. He spends plenty of time laying in the nest and defending the spot while Flower lays in the nest occasionally.

It's all really fun behavior to see in person.

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