African penguin chicks hatch at Pittsburgh's National Aviary

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PITTSBURGH - The National Aviary announced the hatching of two penguin chicks on Monday.

Click here for pictures of the penguin chicks.

The chicks, which hatched on Feb. 26 and 29, are a first for the National Aviary.  They will be hand-raised by staff until the end of the summer, at which time they will join the 12 other African penguins living in the Penguin Point exhibit.

“We are excited to welcome the first African penguin chicks hatched at the National Aviary,” said Patrick Mangus, the National Aviary’s executive director. “Since the opening of our Penguin Point exhibit in 2009, more than 350,000 visitors to the National Aviary have experienced these amazing, personable birds. We’re certain the hatching of these two African penguin chicks will aid our efforts to educate the public on the work being done here and around the world to protect this endangered species.

The chicks’ gender will not be determined for another 12 to 16 weeks, but the naming of the chicks is already under way.

“We’ve named the first chick “Tribby” in honor of our Penguin Point presenting sponsor, Trib Total Media,” said Mangus.  “Naming rights for Tribby’s sibling are being auctioned on-line beginning Monday, March 26.”  The online auction can be accessed here. The auction closes 8 p.m. on March 30. 

The penguin chicks will be introduced to the public at a special ticketed event on Friday, March 30. From 6 to 8 p.m., attendees can view the new penguin chicks, meet some of the Aviary’s other African penguins and participate in hands-on activities around the Aviary.

Endangered in the wild, the National Aviary’s African penguins are part of the international African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a strategy to ensure the long-term viability of the species. 

“The Species Survival Plan has a genetic map of every African penguin enrolled in the program at more than 40 accredited zoos and aquariums,” said African Penguin SSP Chair and National Aviary Director of Animal Collections Steve Sarro. “Each penguin is ranked based on how well represented their genes are in the population. The new chicks are valuable additions to the SSP, and every successful breeding of African penguins is a step forward in ensuring the future of the species.”