Published on November 01, 2023
In a heartwarming development, SeaWorld San Diego has celebrated the hatching of an emperor penguin, a remarkable event that marks the first of its kind in 13 years. The announcement was made on a Wednesday, revealing that the female penguin chick successfully emerged from its shell with the dedicated assistance of zoo staff on September 12th.
The emperor penguin, recognized as a threatened species, is native to Antarctica. At SeaWorld San Diego, a group of 17 emperor penguins resides in a carefully maintained habitat set at a chilly 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 Celsius), where the egg was originally laid on July 7th.
The marine theme park and zoo house around 300 penguins from various species within their dedicated penguin habitat. However, the arrival of the emperor penguin chick holds a special significance to SeaWorld staff, as emphasized by Melissa Ramsey, SeaWorld’s supervisor of birds, who played a pivotal role in the chick’s hatching.
The emperor penguin (scientifically known as Aptenodytes forsteri) holds the distinction of being the largest among all penguin species, capable of reaching heights of up to 3.7 feet (1.15 meters) and weighing as much as 99 pounds (45 kilograms), as reported by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
One of the distinctive features of emperor penguins is their unique reproductive behavior. Unlike some other penguin species that produce multiple eggs each year, female emperor penguins lay only one egg annually. Following the egg-laying process, the female usually returns to the sea for feeding, leaving the male penguin with the responsibility of incubating the egg for a period exceeding two months, during which it refrains from eating. It’s worth noting that emperor penguins typically form monogamous pairs and often mate for life, as highlighted by the WWF.
In the case of the recently hatched chick at SeaWorld San Diego, the mother penguin did not transfer the egg to the father as is typical. Consequently, the SeaWorld staff took it upon themselves to care for the egg. After observing movement and sounds emanating from the egg on September 7th, the team decided to intervene when 72 hours had elapsed with no further progress. They carefully initiated a small opening in the egg, assisting the chick in its journey to emerge over the subsequent two days. It was later determined that the chick had a beak malformation that had posed an obstacle during the hatching process.
As an exciting part of this story, SeaWorld is extending an invitation to the public to name the newly hatched emperor penguin chick. The park has provided three candidate names for consideration, and the public is encouraged to participate in the naming process through voting on Instagram or via email. The options for the chick’s name are Pearl, Pandora, and Astrid, offering a unique opportunity for the community to be part of this special moment.
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