This Little Penguin is Tougher Than It Looks

Magellanic penguins may be listed as “near-threatened” on The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species, but one tough chick is making it clear that they aren’t going anywhere.

This week, the staff at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium helped a recently-hatched Magellanic penguin recover from a severe case of dehydration — marking the first time this team of biologists and the veterinarians have hand-reared a penguin chick.

Courtesy of Katie Cotterill and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Before veterinary staff stepped in with assistance, the two-and-a-half-week-old chick was uncharacteristically sluggish in its colony at the zoo’s Penguin Point. The penguin was pulled from its exhibit and prescribed close monitoring, multiple vitamins and supplement-filled syringe feedings a day, and regular heart and lung checks.

A week into this regiment, staff has confirmed that the chick has gained 200 grams, begun to eat select solid foods, and is overall much more lively and healthy. The veterinary staff will keep the chick separated from the Penguin Point colony for the next few months to continue this extra assistance.

Courtesy of Katie Cotterill and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

“This is the first time we’ve hand-reared a penguin chick,” head veterinarian Dr. Karen Wolf said in a statement. “The chick is feeding well and we are optimistic it will flourish from here.”

The yet-to-be-named chick was one of two penguins bred through Point Defiance Zoo’s participation in the Association of Zoos’ & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan — and unfortunately, is the only surviving chick. Due to a pending necropsy (animal autopsy), it’s unknown at this time if this case of dehydration is related to the passing of its sibling.

Watch the penguin enjoy its herring, krill, and supplements “smoothie” below.

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