by Hassan Travis-Frank

Last month in April, the Aquarium of Niagara has welcomed two newly born Humboldt penguin chicks that hatched in Penguin Coast. The Humboldt penguin parents who are raising the newly hatched chicks are Blanca and PJ Jr. Blanca and PJ are two mated paired penguins who arrived at the Aquarium of Niagara from the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. The two lovely mated pair support the Species Survival Plan that was created by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to conserve and save Humboldt penguins. In April 2020, Blanca and PJ have had two chicks that hatched at the Aquarium of Niagara, and their names were Jules and Smitty. Today, Smitty and Jules has finally matured and are now fully grown adults in Penguin coast, and are older siblings of the newly hatched penguin chicks.

This is the second time that Blanca and PJ have successfully hatched more chicks in Penguin Coast. Educator of the Aquarium of Niagara, Autumn Syracuse explains, “It will also be interesting to see how those penguins are going to grow up, and Smitty and Jules have been so fun to watch. So hopefully we’ll have more funny little penguins to entertain us and make us smile.” The new penguin chicks’ sex will be determined by a blood test from veterinarians; that way keepers and aquarists will understand if one of the chicks is a boy or a girl. The newly hatched chicks would not be in the Penguin Coast exhibit, and they will be with their parents “for several weeks.” The chicks’ sex hasn’t been determined yet, but when they grow up into teenagers, the vets will take a blood sample of them and they will determine if one of the chicks is male or female. The vets will not take blood samples from the chicks right now, because the chicks are not old enough yet to take any sort of blood sample to get tested. “The chicks aren’t quite old enough yet to take any sort of blood sample to get it tested to test their DNA. But once the vets are comfortable with the chicks having enough weight, they’ll be able to take that sample and then it may take a week or two to get those results back,” said Autumn. Therefore, the chicks’ names haven’t been determined yet, so they will be called Chick A and Chick B.

Once the chicks are juveniles, the keepers will be able to give them a name once their sex has been determined. After that, the chicks will be able to bond with their keepers by learning how to take fish from them and to be comfortable around them. However, it is all up to the Species Survival Plan (SSP) to decide if the chicks are going to stay at the Aquarium of Niagara or if they are going to a different facility. “It’s up to the SSP Plan as to whether they’re going to stay with us here or if they’re going to move to a different facility,” Autumn explained. The newly hatched chicks support the Species Survival Plan (SSP) because Humboldt penguins in South America are facing serious threats like humans harvesting penguin guano and overfishing. Zoos and aquariums like the Aquarium of Niagara receives accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to support the conservation of endangered and threatened wildlife, including the Humboldt penguins. The Aquarium of Niagara has done another successful achievement by having more hatched penguin chicks to support the conservation of Humboldt penguins that lived in the habitat of Chile and Peru.

By admin