News Release
 
Contact: Sondra Katzen, Public Relations, 708.688.8351, sondra.katzen@czs.org
 
July 27, 2020
 
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Download Images (credit: Jim Schulz/Chicago Zoological Society)
0121: A month-old Humboldt penguin chick at Brookfield Zoo.
8945, 89538961: Two Humboldt penguin chicks at Brookfield Zoo just turned a month old. They hatched on June 22 and 25.
01450154: Cody Hickman, an animal care specialist at Brookfield Zoo, feeds one of the month-old Humboldt penguin chicks who recently hatched. To mimic the natural cycle as well as to improve the health and welfare of the birds, at Brookfield Zoo, when chicks reach a certain weight, animal care staff take over parenting duties. The chicks still know they are penguins but the shift from parent-feeding to self-feeding makes for an easier transition on both the adults and the chicks.
 

Two Humboldt Penguin Chicks Hatch at Brookfield Zoo

Brookfield, Ill. — While Brookfield Zoo’s Living Coast exhibit has been temporarily closed to guests as mandated by the State of Illinois, it welcomed two Humboldt penguin chicks. The month-old birds, who hatched on June 22 and 25, are thriving and growing fast.

In the wild, as well as in professional care, Humboldt penguins usually raise one chick per clutch. A female tends to lay two eggs, but only the stronger of the chicks survives. When Cara, one of the zoo’s penguins laid two eggs, animal care staff let Cara and her mate, Adrian, continue to incubate one of the eggs. The other was placed with an experienced foster pair to help ensure the survival of both chicks once they hatched.

Both sets of parents successfully raised their chicks. However, being a first-time mother, Cara did not quite get the hang of what she was supposed to do. When chicks are young and vulnerable one parent stays with them at all times, while the other will search for food. However, when Adrian would leave the nestbox, Cara followed him rather than staying with their chick. Being an experienced dad, Adrian would quickly return to the nestbox and tend to the chick. Cara has gained valuable parenting knowledge from Adrian, and staff believe her skills will improve with her next chick.

Humboldt penguin parents typically stay and care for their chicks until the young are about 70 to 90 days old. The adults then leave the breeding ground and go off to sea, leaving their young to fend for themselves. To mimic the natural cycle as well as to improve the health and welfare of the birds, at Brookfield Zoo, when chicks reach a certain weight, animal care staff take over. The chicks still know they are penguins but the shift from parent-feeding to self-feeding makes for an easier transition on both the adults and the chicks.

The Chicago Zoological Society, which manages Brookfield Zoo, is a participant in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP). An SSP is a cooperative population management and conservation program for select species in accredited North American zoos and aquariums. Each plan manages the breeding of a species to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable. The successful pairing of Cara and Adrian was based on a recommendation from the SSP. Currently, there are 432 Humboldt penguins in 20 North American facilities, including 29 at Brookfield Zoo.

According to IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources) Red List, the species is “vulnerable” in its native habitat along the western coast of South America near Peru and Chile. The penguins’ population, which researchers estimate to be around 32,000, continues to decline due to several factors, including climate change and severe weather, human encroachment, and pollutants. For more than a decade, Dr. Mike Adkesson, vice president of clinical medicine for CZS, has led efforts a conservation program at Punta San Juan, a marine protected area in Peru, which is home to wild populations of Humboldt penguins and other wildlife. The successful program focuses on sharing expertise with Peruvian veterinarians and marine biologists, promoting research, and engaging and educating the local communities about the ecosystem and why it is important to protect as well as the wildlife that inhabits the area.

#      #      #


About the Chicago Zoological Society
The mission of the Chicago Zoological Society is to inspire conservation leadership by engaging people and communities with wildlife and nature. The Chicago Zoological Society is a private nonprofit organization that operates Brookfield Zoo on land owned by the Forest Preserves of Cook County. The Society is known throughout the world for its international role in animal population management and wildlife conservation. Its Center for the Science of Animal Care and Welfare is at the forefront of animal care that strives to discover and implement innovative approaches to zoo animal management. Brookfield Zoo is the first zoo in the world to be awarded the Humane Certified™ certification mark for the care and welfare of its animals, meeting American Humane Association’s rigorous certification standards. Open every day of the year, the zoo is located at 8400 31st Street in Brookfield, Illinois, between the Stevenson (I-55) and Eisenhower (I-290) expressways and also is accessible via the Tri-State Tollway (I-294), Metra commuter line, and CTA and PACE bus service. For further information, visit CZS.org.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Sondra Katzen
Media Relations Manager
Office: 708-688-8351
Cell Phone: 708-903-2071
E-mail: Sondra.Katzen@CZS.org

Membership

Center for the Science of Animal Welfare

Read about our innovative practices in animal welfare to ensure the ultimate care of our individual animals.

Classes and Camps

Center for Conservation Leadership

We place a high priority on developing and supporting conservation leaders of all ages and backgrounds.

Membership

Visit Brookfield Zoo

Create extraordinary connections with animals and nature!

Animal Welfare

You Can Help!

Become our partner in caring for animals and in connecting people with wildlife and nature.