Thursday, August 27, 2009

Behind the Scenes with Baby Macaroni Penguin

Talk about a little character. The baby macaroni penguin was absolutely hilarious yesterday when Amy Graves took it on "walk about." The little chick was very active, exploring, stretching and occasionally nipping at Amy. "He's got his daddy's attitude," said Graves, referring to the chick's playful pecks. Of course it will still be awhile before we know whether the baby is a boy or a girl, but many seem to automatically refer to the chick as a male.

One thing visitors will notice are the fluffy-looking areas next to smooth areas on this bird. The smooth areas are the sleek, swim feathers. The now somewhat ragged-looking feathers are the downy, baby feathers.

What guests can't see from a distance are the number of downy feathers that fall out whenever the chick preens or even moves. There's also quite a bit of dander. So I was reminded of the cartoon character, "Pigpen" from Peanuts while watching "him" waddle around. There was quite a cloud of grey feathers following the little one around. "He" seemed to enjoy a light scratching from Amy much like a shedding dog enjoys a good scratching.


In this view, you can see the feet have now gone from the black color it was born with, to a pinkish color more like adult macaroni penguins. If you look closely at the beak, you might detect the color beginning to lighten there as well.

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