Coney Island

Black-footed penguin chick hatches at Coney Island’s New York Aquarium

February 8, 2016 Brooklyn Daily Eagle
A black-footed penguin chick recently hatched at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. Photo: Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
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A black-footed penguin chick (Spheniscus demersus) has hatched at the Wildlife Conservation Society’s (WCS) New York Aquarium in Coney Island. 

The chick is currently off exhibit while he gets acclimated to his surroundings and bonds with his parents but will make his public debut in the near future. 

Black-footed penguins, also known as African penguins, are designated Endangered by the IUCN, adding to the significance of the successful breeding. 

The New York Aquarium’s black-footed penguin exhibit is home to 22 birds, including the chick. Native to southern Africa, they are a signature species for the aquarium and live in their outdoor exhibit all year, thriving in all temperatures.

The male chick was born in November to mother, Boulder, and father, Dassen. Penguin chicks have soft downy plumage that stays with them for a few months until their first molt and the growth of their first true feathers.

Both penguin parents play an equal role in egg incubation and chick rearing. They each take turns incubating the egg for about 39 days. Young penguins start out eating partially digested food fed to them by their parents. After about a month, they transition to small fish.

The New York Aquarium breeds black-footed penguins as part of  the Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program administered by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) designed to enhance the genetic viability and demographic stability of animal populations in AZA accredited zoos and aquariums.

African penguins are one of 10 signature species that are a part of a new effort by AZA called SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction. SAFE combines the power of zoo and aquarium visitors with the resources and collective expertise of AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums and partners to save animals from extinction. Together, this coalition is working on saving African penguins from extinction and protecting them for future generations. 

WCS is working in the field to help save penguins. In Latin America, WCS works to safeguard several species in coastal Argentina and Chile and has helped establish marine protected areas in both countries.

Locally, WCS’s NY Seascape program works to restore healthy populations of local marine species and protect New York marine waters, which are vital to wildlife and key to the area’s economic and cultural vitality.


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