Penguins are excellent swimmers, there is no doubt about that! But they are not born ready for life in the ocean. As you have seen in previous posts (Watch chicks break out of their shells here, or check out the tiny chicks during their weigh-ins here!), when penguin chicks hatch out of their shell they are very small and helpless.
Here's a chick in the fluffy stage.
Newborn chicks are initially covered in a sparse down, usually brown with a white chest. After a week or two this is replaced with a much thicker layer of secondary down. When the chick approaches full size the down is replaced by waterproof feathers, in a process called fledging.
These chicks are fledging into their waterproof feathers!
Once their waterproof juvenile feathers grow in we introduce them to swimming. We swim them in the pools behind the scenes for short periods and gradually increase their swim until they are swimming like pros.
A juvenile penguin goes for a dip!
Watch these videos to see our chicks swimming behind the scenes.
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2011 South Africa Expedition
Little blue penguins
2008 Chile Rockhopper Expedition
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The Aquarium is home to more than 80 penguins who live in a bustling colony found on Level 1 surrounding the Giant Ocean Tank. The Aquarium breeds African penguins as part of a Species Survival Plan and promotes education programs about penguins around the world.
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