The Idaho Falls Zoo is happy to announce the hatching of two endangered African penguin chicks and a Chilean flamingo chick.
The penguins hatched on June 27 and 29, and the flamingo hatched on July 13. Staff won’t know the genders of the penguins until they are older and undergo a blood test. The Chilean flamingo chick, which is a female, is being parent-raised in the flamingo exhibit in the Patagonian Realm area at the zoo while the two penguin chicks are now being hand-raised by animal care staff in the penguin building.
"As wildlife numbers globally continue to decrease these chicks are important ambassadors for the conservation of their species," says Zoo Director David Pennock.
The new chicks are the result of breeding recommendations from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). SSPs are captive breeding management programs which help ensure the survival of select species in zoos and aquariums (most of which are threatened or endangered in the wild).
Because the Idaho Falls Zoo is accredited by AZA, the breeding of species like the African penguins and Chilean flamingo in accredited institutions is advised by a national SSP developed and reviewed regularly by a team of experts from across the country. The purpose of the program is to monitor select species at AZA accredited zoos worldwide to ensure their well-being, overall genetic health, and survival.
While the Chilean flamingo will be raised by its parents, African penguin chicks at the zoo are cared for a little differently for their overall well-being. They are raised by their parents for their first three weeks and then are brought into the penguin building where zoo representatives feed and care for them until the chick has grown enough to rejoin the colony. The human contact is essential to ensuring the birds will be comfortable around people as adults. A good comfort level around humans is important as it allows the keepers to hand feed them twice daily and provide all their medical care needs.
Through an automatic contribution from admissions, the zoo has raised over $120,000 for local and global conservation programs in the last four years in the Quarters for Conservation program. African penguins is one of the species helped through the program.
While the chicks will not be introduced to the colony at Penguin Cove until about 6-8 weeks old, they can be seen on a monitor located near the exhibit viewing windows. The flamingo chick can be seen with the flock as she’s now started to venture into the pond.
We invite you to come to the zoo to meet the newest additions to the family!