Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Breeding: Another successful year

The penguin blogs have been sparse lately because the penguin staff has been very busy with another successful African penguin breeding season. (Catch up on last year's successful breeding season here!) We are happy to report that eight penguin chicks hatched in May and June and have just joined the rest of the colony on exhibit!

A new addition to the African penguin colony

It is hard to believe that just over five months ago we were bringing our breeding pairs behind the scenes to start the breeding season. Within two to three weeks the breeding pairs started to lay their eggs, and incubate them. About forty days later the chicks inside started to pip out. The penguin parents did an awesome job raising the chicks, regurgitating fish to them and when the chicks reached about 2000g in weight we stepped in and started hand feeding them. They all fledged and started swimming in tubs and soon graduated to swimming in the exhibit. Now they are all grown up and have joined the penguin colony.

Weighing in

Swimming lessons, behind the scenes

Testing the waters in the penguin colony

I am proud to introduce you to the newest members of the NEAQ’s penguin colony!

  • TAG with a yellow and white bracelet on the left wing. TAG is named after the Taxon Advisory Group, whose mission is to examine the conservation needs of a species and to develop recommendations for population management and conservation based on the needs of that species.

  • Vello with a purple and orange bracelet on the left wing. Vello is named after Alvero Vello, who wrote about penguins in his sailing journals, and was thought to be the first European to sight African penguins.

  • Brenton has a red and grey bracelet on the right wing. Brenton is named after Brenton Island which is one of several islands in Algoa Bay that is recognized as an IBA (important bird area) by BirdLife.

  • Geirfugl has a blue and black bracelet on the left wing. Geirfugl was the early name for the Great Auk which was a penguin like bird that once lived in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • Apollo with a white and grey bracelet on the left wing. Apollo is named after the Chinese ore carrier Apollo Sea that sunk off the coast of Cape Town, in June of 1994 resulting in a severe oil spill that oiled thousands of African penguins.

  • Tux with a green and black bracelet on the left wing, and is named after penguins' countershading camouflage (dark on the back, white on the front) because it resembles a tuxedo look.

  • Kaapse with a brown and black bracelet on the right wing. Kaapse means “cape” in Afrikaans, a language spoken in South Africa.

  • And AEWA with a blue and grey bracelet on the right wing; AEWA’s name was chosen from a list of names that Aquarium member submitted in a members-only contest. AEWA stands for the African-Eurasian Waterbird Alliance, which is a multi-national organization that protects 255 species of waterbirds, including African penguins, that rely on coastal wetland areas. Thanks to Hilary H. from Cambridge, Mass. for the suggestion, as well as all the other participants who suggested a lot of really good names!

Next time you are at the Aquarium make sure you stop by and say “Hi” to our newest penguins.

The class of 2011! (Note their temporary arm bands in this picture, they've since graduated to their permanent bands described above.)