Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Penguin on Walk-About

Aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich with the macaroni chick on "Walk About."

The macaroni penguin chick at the Tennessee Aquarium is looking a little scruffy lately. That's because swimming feathers are growing in, pushing out its downy, soft feathers. Look closely at the picture of aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich and the macaroni chick and you'll notice smooth and fluffy areas on its flippers. "So right now it appears like a molting adult macaroni," said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. "And we'll have a bunch of molting penguins in about a month." Graves says that the macaroni chick might have all of its swimming feathers in about two more weeks. "Then it can go for its first swim," Graves said. For now, the baby macaroni is a "Tween." Big enough to roam around, but without the swim feathers it still has to be kept inside an acrylic barrier with the parents. So, the Aquarium's penguin keepers have been taking this chick into the penguin backup area twice daily for "walk about." Graves explains this activity is beneficial in several ways. "First it is an enrichment activity for the chick. It wanders around exploring the backup area and getting a little exercise. But it also allows us to get a close up look at the bird and by gently manipulating the beak, flippers and feet now, it will be less stressful for this bird when we have to examine it as an adult." Check out this link if you would like to see the macaroni chick on "walk about": http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JWJ-zyXqUQk

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