Penguin Chick Hatches at the Zoo

A bundle of fluffy gray feathers arrived at the zoo on June 26, 2012:  A tiny black-footed penguin hatched to mother Right Pink and father Left Pink. (The penguins are identified by colored bands on each wing.) 

Though the Pinks have raised several chicks, this penguin needed a little help entering the world.  A few days before hatching, the chick used its pointy temporary “egg tooth” (located on the top of its beak) to “pip” through both the internal egg membrane and the eggshell.  Normally, the chick would begin coming out of its shell at this point, but in this case, nothing happened.  “The veterinary staff ultimately helped the chick come out of the egg,” says zoo keeper Nikki Finch.  “Mom and dad took the chick back right away and starting caring for it.”

The Pinks are apparently doing a great job caring for their chick – its weight increased nearly sixfold, from 52 grams to 298 grams, in just 12 days! 

You won’t be able to see the chick, whose gender is not yet known, for several months.  “Right now, the chick is with the Pinks in the penguins’ night house,” says Finch.  The chick will stay with its parents, dining on regurgitated fish, until it is 21 days old or weighs 500 grams.  “After that, we’ll take over feeding the chick and train it to eat fish form our hand,” says Finch.  Once the chick loses its fuzzy gray down and sports a nice set of waterproof feathers, it will return to the exhibit and meet the rest of the flock.

Read more about the endangered African black-footed penguin.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.


Seven Kangaroo Joeys Emerge in 2012

The Australian Adventure’s kangaroo yard is jumping with seven kangaroo joeys!

Most of the joeys were born last year in May or June, but they’ve only recently been out of their mothers’ pouches, exploring the world around them.  All of the joeys were sired by the zoo’s only adult male kangaroo, Mako, who arrived here last March.

Kangaroos are marsupials, so they are born in a highly underdeveloped state.  Right after birth, the joey crawls to the pouch, where it remains for months nursing and growing.

Even though a joey might be too big to fit into mom’s pouch, that doesn’t stop the joey from trying.  Don’t be surprised to see odd combinations of legs, feet, tails, and noses poking out of pouches on your first visit this spring!

Click on the photos below to enlarge.

Dingo Pups Born at Zoo

Zoo dingoes Naya and Mattie became the proud parents of seven adorable puppies on January 30.  The four male and three female pups are the first dingoes to be born at the zoo since 1988. 
“All of the pups appear strong and healthy, and Naya and Mattie are excellent parents,” says Elaine Kirchner, Australian Adventure Area Manager.   All the pups doubled in weight after just a week.

For now, the puppies live indoors in a cozy nest box. When Naya enters the nest box, the puppies whimper and crawl to her belly, where they nurse. The pups’ eyes will open at around two weeks of age, and they may begin to venture out of the nest box to explore the dingoes’ heated indoor quarters.

Mattie and Naya are one of only about 75 pairs of pure dingoes worldwide, so the pups are an important addition to the pure dingo population. In Australia, dingoes have widely hybridized with domestic dogs, so pure dingoes are rare.

Naya’s litter of pups is notable not only for its size (most dingo litters have just three or four pups), but for its coloration:  The litter includes three ginger-colored pups, two cream-colored pups, and two black and tan pups.  Ninety percent of wild dingoes are ginger-colored, like Mattie and Naya.  Eight percent are black and tan, and just two percent are cream-colored.  Having all three color types present in the same litter is unusual.

Like all large litters, there is a wide size difference among the pups, with the largest pup (a black and tan male) weighing nearly three times as much as the smallest pup (a black and tan female).  “Even though the smallest pup is tiny, she is very feisty,” says Kirchner.  “She fights her way through the crowd right to Naya’s belly, and has been gaining weight steadily.”  The puppies have not yet been named.

Zoo officials are unsure how many of the puppies will be in the exhibit this season. “No matter how many pups are on display, the dingo exhibit will be action-packed this summer,” says Kirchner.   Stay tuned for puppy updates, and plan to visit them when the zoo opens on April 21!

Click here to see a video of the dingo pups and learn more about dingoes.

Click on the photos below to enlarge.