Outlining the Secret for Penguin Chick Success

Posted on July 26

Calgary, AB – The Calgary Zoo is pleased to announce the arrival of three new penguin chicks thanks to the long-term thinking of the zoo’s dedicated Animal Care team. Following the breeding recommendations of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) coupled with the zoo’s expertise in caring for penguins, has resulted in the successful hatching of two Humboldt penguin chicks, one gentoo chick and the laying of a king penguin egg.

“This has been a busy season in our penguin colonies and because all of our penguins participate in Species Survival Plans (SSP’s), we are working hard to increase the diversity in each population,” says Dr. Malu Celli, Curator, Calgary Zoo. “We are remarkably strategic in how we manage each individual species in our care by working collaboratively with the population coordinators from the SSP and utilizing our own knowledge of how to care for these at-risk birds. These are extremely encouraging results and we hope to have many more positive years of breeding success.”

The two Humboldt penguin chicks hatched on May 22 and May 31, while the gentoo chick hatched on June 19. Unfortunately, a third Humboldt chick hatched on June 13 but did not survive. All three of the penguin chicks are thriving and receiving devoted attention from their parents. In penguin colonies, both mom and dad care for the chick until it is strong enough to survive on its own. The egg laid by the king penguin pair, if fertile, is not anticipated to hatch until sometime in August.

Since Penguin Plunge opened in 2012, the breeding successes have been significant. There have been three previous Humboldt chicks hatched, two gentoos, and this is will be the third king chick hatched at the zoo. As the home of the northern rockhopper SSP program, the zoo is looking to concentrate its efforts on this species next by introducing female northern rockhopper penguins to the colony to hopefully breed with the bachelor group of males in Penguin Plunge.

Penguins around the world are facing increasing threats of global warming, habitat loss and overfishing of seas. Penguin Plunge is home to four different species of penguins all of which are listed on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List due to declining population numbers. Gentoos are listed as near threatened, Humboldts are vulnerable, kings are least concern, and northern rockhoppers are endangered. All of the penguins participate in SSP’s to ensure genetic diversity within captive populations and to safeguard species from going extinct.

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Media: Interviews available with Dr. Malu Celli on request.


Trish Exton-Parder
Lead, Media Relations
Calgary Zoo
Phone: 403.232.9381
Mobile: 403.371.9075
[email protected]