CONTACT: Kyle Shepherd
Direct: 502-238-5331 | Media Only: 502-744-5639
The Louisville Zoo is happy to announce the hatching of four little penguins. Two of the chicks are being parent-reared by two sets of parents and two are being hand-reared by Curator of Birds, Gary Michael and the Bird Department staff. The four chicks hatched in January.
Michael and the two hand-reared chicks will have media availability on Tuesday, April 2 from 10:30-11:30 a.m.
“Pearl” is a male and is 73 days old and female “Squirt” is 68 days old. The other two birds are both males and 74 days old. They are not yet named.
Little penguins rarely raise more than one offspring although they typically lay two eggs. Because of this, the second chick often dies after the first healthy chick hatches. In order to facilitate the four successful hatchings at the Zoo, Michael removed the two eggs that were ignored by the parents and worked diligently with them to ensure the abandoned pre-hatch chicks could survive. He worked through portions of two days to assist the chicks out of their shells.
The little or blue penguin population numbers about 500,000 individuals in the remnant wild. They are native to the southern coast of Australia and the coastline of New Zealand. The species is on a slow decline as the result of habitat loss and predation by introduced predators, namely domestic dogs and cats. There are about 348 birds in managed zoo programs in the world and 108 of those are in the U.S. Of those 108, the Louisville Zoo has 12. With this current hatch of four, we have increased our flock by 50%.
The AZA has established a national management program, the Species Survival Plan (SSP), for this rarely displayed species. It’s our aim to help conserve this species that is expected to further decline in the remnant wild in the coming years.
The Louisville Zoo, a non-profit organization and state zoo of Kentucky, is dedicated to bettering the bond between people and our planet by providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for visitors, and leadership in scientific research and conservation education. The Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).