First Penguin Chick In 11 Years Hatches At Point Defiance Zoo

Update: A second penguin chick has hatched at the zoo.

It’s baby animal season once again, and this year there’s a big arrival at the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium: a Magellanic penguin chick, the first at the zoo in 11 years.

And there may be more on the way; Zookeepers believe there is at least one more fertile egg among the zoo’s four mating pairs.

“We are delighted with the hatching of this chick,” said Amanda Shaffer, a staff biologist and the zoo’s lead penguin keeper. “The pairings of these adults came as the result of a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Magellanic penguins.”

The chick hatched Tuesday, May 23. It was the first hatching at the zoo since 2006. The chick’s parents are keeping close by, “brooding” on the chick. Penguins keep their young warm with a “brood patch” — a separation of feathers on the lower part of the parent’s abdomen that is used to cover the chick. It may be a while before visitors see the chick up close.

Zookeepers have not had a chance to examine the hatchling closely. Its parents weigh between nine and 10 pounds each.

The penguin parents do not have names, but are identified by colored bands on their wings. The new chick’s parents are “red” and “pink.”

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is a staff writer at South Sound magazine. Email her.
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