Tacoma zoo welcomes first penguin chick in 11 years

by: KIRO 7 News Staff Updated:

TACOMA, Wash. - It's been 11 years since the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium has welcomed a penguin chick, but the zoo expects more baby chicks in the weeks to come.

The Magellanic penguin chick is just one of many eggs that four mating pairs of penguins have been sitting on. Zookeepers believe there is at least one more fertile egg in the group; parents share incubating the eggs in shifts and the chicks hatch 38-42 days after they are laid.

Penguins also co-parent and the zoo said the father spent a lot of Tuesday afternoon huddled in the penguin's burrow.

“We are delighted with the hatching of this chick,” said staff biologist Amanda Shaffer, who is the zoo’s lead penguin keeper. “The pairings of these adults came as the result of a breeding recommendation through the Species Survival Plan® (SSP) for Magellanic penguins.”

Magellanic penguins are listed as a near-threatened species with the International Union for Conservation of Nature; the group tracks the effect environmental factors and human encroachment have on animal populations.

The penguins are native to the southern end of South America and can be found along the coasts of Chile, Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. They weigh around 10 pounds, are around 24-30 inches tall and can live up to 25 years in the wild or up to 30 years in captivity.