Flock to WCS New York Aquarium to See the Newest Avian Addition: a Black-Footed Penguin Chick

Penguin Chick Photo
Julie Larsen Maher © WCS

The arrival marks the first hatching of this endangered species at the aquarium in 15 years



Brooklyn, N.Y. – July 24, 2012 – The newest animal to nest at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s New York Aquarium is a black-footed penguin chick, the first one to hatch in 15 years at the aquarium. Black-footed penguins are endangered, making the chick’s arrival significant not only for the aquarium, but for the species’ survival. The New York Aquarium’s black-footed penguin exhibit is home to a total of 16 of these warm-weather birds. Black-footed penguins are a signature species for the aquarium and live in their outdoor exhibit year round, thriving in all temperatures.

The female chick was born in February to mom, Boulder, and father, Dassen. Penguin chicks have soft downy plumage that stays with them for a few months until their juvenile feathers come in followed by adult plumage. The black-footed penguins can be seen in the aquarium’s indoor/outdoor Sea Cliffs exhibit.

Black-footed penguins are designated Endangered by the IUCN. They are part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Program – a cooperative breeding program designed to maximize the genetic diversity in captive populations. Black-footed penguins are native to the southern tip of Africa.

“The arrival of this penguin chick is a significant event for the New York Aquarium,” said Jon Forrest Dohlin, WCS Vice President and Director of the WCS New York Aquarium. “The birth of any endangered or threatened species helps us further our goal of educating and enlightening people about the need to help save fragile ocean ecosystems and the wildlife that lives here.”

The New York Aquarium and WCS’s other facilities have a long tradition of excellence in animal husbandry sciences. The successful breeding of the penguins at the aquarium underscores that leadership. The animal department at the aquarium has been working with black-footed penguins for almost 30 years. The exhibit in Sea Cliffs opened in 1993.

Both penguin mother and father take equal part in egg- and chick-rearing responsibilities. They each take turns sitting on the egg in a nest keepers make out of pieces of fabric. In the wild, the birds would use sticks. The egg incubates for about 39 days. This chick took a full day to pip – the act of emerging from the egg. Young penguins start out eating partially digested food fed to them by their parents. After about a month, chicks will start transitioning to smaller fishes like capelin, which is what the aquarium’s chick is eating now.

WCS is a world leader in conservation, conducting field projects around the world. WCS’s expansive Global Marine Program conducts conservation efforts in 20 countries and all four oceans to help save threatened and endangered species such as black-footed penguins. In Latin America, WCS works to safeguard several species of penguin in coastal Argentina and Chile, and has helped establish marine protected areas in both countries.

WCS's newest marine program is the New York Seascape, where work is being done in local waters to help save marine species that are either native to or use local New York waterways as a migratory corridor. These species include sharks, skates, rays, horseshoe crabs, and other animals.

Wildlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium opens every day of the year at 10am, and closing times vary seasonally. Admission is $14.95 for adults, $10.95 for children ages 3-12 and $11.95 for senior citizens (65 and older); children under 3 years of age are admitted free. Fridays after 3pm, admission is by suggested donation. The Aquarium is located on Surf Avenue at West 8th Street in Coney Island. For directions, information on public events and programs, and other Aquarium information, call 718-265-FISH or visit our web site at http://www.nyaquarium.com. Now is the perfect time to visit and show support for the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn's most heavily attended attraction and a beloved part of the City of New York.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth.

Special Note to the Media: If you would like to guide your readers or viewers to a Web link where they can make donations in support of helping save wildlife and wild places, please direct them to wcs.org.

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