Two African black-footed penguins will be leaving the Idaho Falls Zoo today for their new home at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.
Jack Junior, a 3-year-old male, and Lahima, a 7-year-old female, both hatched and were hand-raised at the Idaho Falls Zoo. Because both birds are very important to the genetic variability of the species, they are moving to Baltimore to breed.
In return, the Idaho Falls Zoo will be receiving two new African penguins from the Maryland Zoo. The penguin swap is a recommendation from the Association of Zoos and Aquarium’s African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).
While Jack Junior and Lahima will be dearly missed, the staff at Idaho Falls Zoo is confident they will be happy and successful in their new home at the Maryland Zoo. “I’m a little sad to see these two leave our colony,” states penguin keeper Erika Alderete, “But, I look forward to meeting the new colony members.” The two new penguins will be joining Idaho Falls Zoo sometime later this year.
The SSP is comprised of a scientific committee responsible for ensuring the genes of the captive populations, such as the African penguins, stay diverse and healthy for generations to come. By regulating breeding, scientists can help ensure that penguins under human care are being properly managed to prevent extinction of the species. As part of the program, animals often move from their natal zoo to other accredited institutions in order to find a mate.
The Idaho Falls Zoo has a strong history of successful penguin breeding, and part of that success is due to cooperation with the SSP and other zoos and aquariums; penguins hatched in Idaho now live all over the country!
Adhering to the SSP’s recommendations for breeding and moving penguins is important because African penguins are endangered, and captive breeding is a crucial part of conservation for this charismatic species.
Currently, the Idaho Falls Zoo participates in 47 SSPs covering animals from the African pancake tortoise, to the African lions and snow leopards.
to the Idaho Falls Zoo today. The zoo is open 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily and will have late night on the first Friday of the month in July, August, and September. Learn more about zoo events, hours and admission at www.idahofallszoo.org.
Media Note: For more information or to schedule an interview with zoo staff, contact Public Information Officer, Kerry Hammon.