Penguin chick hatches at National Aviary in Pittsburgh

December 18, 2017

The chattering of an African penguin chick Sunday morning alerted experts at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh that the much anticipated hatchling had arrived as predicted Saturday.

That golf ball-size youngster is hard to see, as its parents brood both the chick and a second egg to keep them warm.

The second egg is expected to hatch next week.

Every parental nuzzle of the new chick and turn of the egg is visible on a recently installed high-resolution, infrared web camera that broadcasts live on the Aviary’s website, www.PenguinNestCam.org.

The young penguin will be cared for at first by its parents. Then, in about three weeks, Aviary experts will pluck the youngster from the nest to complete its upbringing, ensuring a high standard of care for this critically endangered species.

There are fewer than 25,000 African penguins remaining in the wild.

As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, the National Aviary’s penguins are in an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African penguins for future generations.

Penguin parents, Sidney and Bette, laid two eggs, on Nov. 7 and 11.

This is the fourth set of chicks for Sidney and Bette, who have had six chicks together previously at the National Aviary.

What to expect in coming weeks:

When an African penguin chick hatches, the yolk sac is still attached to the young bird to provide initial nutrition. After the yolk sac is absorbed, the chick will start begging for food, and the parents will feed it a diet of partially digested fish several times a day.

Both parents will take turns tending the nest throughout the chick-rearing process, according to the Aviary.

The chick will eventually be released to its colony in Penguin Point with 20 other African penguins.

The camera and installation services are donated by M&P Security Solutions Inc., a veteran-owned business serving the Greater Pittsburgh area.

Mary Ann Thomas is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-226-4691, mthomas@tribweb.com or via Twitter @MaThomas_Trib.