Senior aviculturist Amy Graves with the "magic rocks" the Tennessee Aquarium penguins will use to build nests. The rocks are sorted to make sure they are too large to swallow, but not too heavy for the gentoo and macaroni penguins to carry with their beaks. Plenty of work goes into cleaning the exhibit and rocks before breeding season begins.
Graves says Hercules is a dashing penguin in the eyes of the female macaronis. Keepers, volunteers and visitors will watch with interest to see which birds pair up after the nesting rocks are placed in the exhibit.
Left to right: Pepper, Chaos and Paulie seem determined to claim their former nesting site. After raising Pepper last year, Chaos and Paulie have developed a strong pair bond. Graves and others would be very surprised if these two mates are not together again. Pepper will probably play with rocks this season. It will be interesting to see what she'll do if there is a sibling this year.
For more information go to the Tennessee Aquarium's newsroom: