Apple Valley, MINN – April 9, 2018 – Four female endangered African penguins recently hatched out at the Minnesota Zoo. All four chicks have started swimming lessons with zookeepers behind the scenes. This process will help acclimate the chicks’ feathers to the water and prepare them for a public debut in the 3M Penguins of the African Coast habitat later this spring.
The four chicks remain behind the scenes for a while, as they continue to receive care from zookeepers. Breeding season for African penguins typically occurs from October to March at the Minnesota Zoo, when the nest boxes are opened up for the flock in their habitat. Most penguin pairs typically lay one to two eggs during this time.
The Minnesota Zoo has successfully hatched 24 African penguin chicks since opening the 3M Penguins of the African Coast habitat in 2011.
Along with hatching new African penguin chicks on-site, the Minnesota Zoo also consistently supports critical fieldwork occurring in South Africa to save endangered African penguins in the wild. The Zoo’s primary penguin keeper, Eric Reece, recently worked overseas with the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB). This non-profit organization focuses on rescuing abandoned African penguin chicks, and injured, sick, and oiled seabirds. The Minnesota Zoo has sent several staff members over to share their expert skills and care for these rescued birds.
African penguins are currently listed as an endangered species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The Minnesota Zoo participates in their Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a breeding program in human care through which the coordinated efforts of several zoos throughout the United States helps maintain the captive gene pool for the future aid of the wild population. The Minnesota Zoo currently participates in approximately 90 SSP programs, including the African penguin SSP.
The Minnesota Zoo is a year-round destination located in Apple Valley, just minutes south of Mall of America. The Zoo’s mission is to connect people, animals and the natural world to save wildlife. For more information, call 952.431.9500 or visit mnzoo.org. The Minnesota Zoo is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) and an institutional member of the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA).