Oh, babies! Pittsburgh's National Aviary debuts penguin chicks
By Bob Karlovits
Published: Monday, Dec. 23, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
No ugly ducklings here.
A pair of penguin chicks — hatched Nov. 29 and Dec. 3 — will soon have their close-ups with visitors to the National Aviary on Pittsburgh's North Side.
The baby penguins — one male, one female — will be moved from the nest to an incubator Dec. 26, says Pilar Fish, director of veterinary medicine at the aviary. There, they will be hand-fed by staffers and gently raised to the point where they can begin walking, swimming and doing all things penguin.
The incubator will be across the hallway from the Penguin Point exhibit at the North Side aviary. Visitors will be able to monitor the progress.
“And how exciting is that?” Fish says. “How neat will it be to be able to visit Penguin Point and then come across the hall and see the chicks as they grow up.”
The two chicks, like the 16 other penguins at the aviary, are African black-footed penguins, warm-weather birds that are greatly threatened by oil spills and over-fishing in their native habitat. Fish calls the members of the exhibit “ambassadors” of an international conservation effort by creating awareness of the breed.
Their numbers decreased from 200,000 in the year 2000 to 50,000 today, Fish says, with some estimating the breed could be extinct in 15 years.
The chicks are the offspring of Sidney and Betty, who produced two chicks Feb. 26 and 29, 2012. The female chick, the older of the two, weights about 150 grams now and the male about 100.
Fish and ornithologist Robert Mulvihill were enthusiastic at the four births.
“Any time you have a hatching in an aviary, it speaks well for the conditions there,” Mulvihill says.
The four-week stage the chicks are ending is much like the eight-week stage where a puppy is ready to begin life with an owner, Fish says. In the next stretch, the chicks will be closely monitored to assess their heath. Somewhere between weeks 8 and 12, they will be able to spend some time with the other penguins during the day. They will return to a protected area during the night.
By the end of February, Aviary officials expect the little ones to be swimming in pools near the incubator area and furthering their experience in the exhibit.
The chicks should be able to join Penguin Point by spring, Fish says.
Between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3, visitors can enter to win a baby penguin encounter and get up close to the little ones. Penguin-related activities will be added on select dates in January, including penguin parades, crafts, special talks and feedings, and baby penguin meet-and-greets. Details: www.aviary.org
Bob Karlovits is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7852.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kovacevic: Bylsma’s moves — yes, moves — pay off
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for consolidation
- Apollo proposes wide-ranging ordinance on rental properties
- McKeesport Area students may ‘have their cake and eat it too’
- Penguins rally to escape with a victory in Game 1 against Columbus
- Clairton marks Month of Young Child with parade, assembly
- Physical Columbus team is a hit in playoff opener against Penguins
- Mogie’s in Lower Burrell subject of hearing by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for noise
- 2 serious in New Ken stabbings
- Ballot issue to seek 0.25-mill property tax increase to support Springdale Free Public Library
- Butler County Commissioners OK display of ‘In God We Trust’ in meeting room