Thursday, June 27, 2013

Macaroni Penguin Chick Hatches at the Tennessee Aquarium!

Visitors are excited to see a new face at Penguins’ Rock! Parents Sweet Pea and Merlin can be seen with their macaroni chick in an acrylic “playpen” on the right side of the exhibit.

Macaroni chick at 25 days old
The chick hatched on May 31 and has been under careful observation by keepers. It is weighed and examined nearly every day. Penguin parents have the most important jobs. Both are sharing feeding and brooding responsibilities, however, Merlin leans more toward guarding and brooding the chick while Sweet Pea is a little better at feeding it.

Macaroni chick being examined by aquarium veterinary staff at  3 days old

The chick will remain under close watch as it continues to grow. If all goes well, it will be outside of the nest in a few weeks. Keepers will introduce him or her to the habitat on short walkabouts once the chick’s swim feathers grow in. (In the wild, macaroni chicks are ready to go to sea at around 10 to 11 weeks old!) Macaronis develop their trademark yellow crest feathers after their first molt – around one year old.

Macaroni chick at 21 days old

Macaroni chick at 24 days old

Currently, our gentoo penguins – whose eggs typically hatch later in the summer - have laid five eggs. We look forward to the possibility of even more baby penguins soon.

With all of this excitement, you might want to add the afternoon Backstage Pass to your Aquarium visit to get a special birds’-eye view of all the nesting penguins!

Check out this video of our new penguin chick:

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