Keepers at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore have welcomed a trio of small, fuzzy baby penguins into world over the last six days. The birds are the first to hatch at the zoo during this year’s breeding season for African penguins.
Breeding kicked off in mid-September, but it typically takes 38 to 42 days for eggs to hatch once they are laid. Once they are out of their shells, the two new penguin parents take turns caring for their offspring for several days. They then continue watching over them for several weeks before the zoo keepers take them out of their nests and teach them where the food for the colony comes from (the humans).
The first penguin chick, shown below, was born to parents Portia and Beckham last Thursday. The other two, pictured above, are siblings born days apart on Oct. 22 and 25 to parents Ascot and Dennis.
Staff at the zoo seem to be thrilled. “This breeding season is off to a wonderful start,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager for the Penguin Coast exhibit, on the zoo’s website. “As soon as the nest boxes were made available to the penguins again for the start of breeding season, the birds began exhibiting breeding behaviors and claiming their nests. We are really excited about the prospects for this season, and these three are just the beginning.”
This video shows the newborn birds squirming around in human hands, nuzzling one another and making inaudible sounds through open beaks:
As Kottyan noted, these are likely the first three of many to join the ranks of Druid Hill Park’s one and only penguin colony. With good care from the keepers, hopefully they’ll fit right in with their flightless parents and siblings, as well as their distant relatives.
Ethan McLeod is an associate editor for Baltimore Fishbowl.