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New baby penguin makes its debut at Pittsburgh's National Aviary

| Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, 4:31 p.m.
The first of two African penguin chicks hatched at the National Aviary on the North Side early Monday. The new chick can't be seen in the photo, but Aviary officials said its parents will huddle over the chick to provide warmth, likely concealing it for a time from the camera.
The first of two African penguin chicks hatched at the National Aviary on the North Side early Monday. The new chick can't be seen in the photo, but Aviary officials said its parents will huddle over the chick to provide warmth, likely concealing it for a time from the camera.

Viewers caught an affectionate scene Monday as the first of two African penguin chicks hatched on camera at the National Aviary on the North Side.

The newly installed high-resolution camera, hosted live at triblive.com/babypenguins , has logged more than 35,000 views since its installation last week.

The chick is about the size of a golf ball and covered in gray, downy feathers, aviary spokeswoman Robin Weber said. Specialists will wait for the second chick to hatch before they step in and grab the pair for a more thorough examination.

“Confirmation of a birth, for us, just means we stick our head inside and make sure it's there,” Weber said. “Our online viewers actually noticed the increased activity first. No one at the aviary has actually seen the chick on camera yet.”

Parents Sidney and Bette can be seen, at times, nuzzling the nest area with their beaks to reposition the chick or remaining egg, she said. When a chick is hatched, it has the yolk sack attached to provide nutrition, but it should absorb within a few days.

Soon, the chicks will start begging for food, Weber said, and the parents will feed it a diet of partially digested fish multiple times a day.

They will be named through auction or in honor of someone once DNA tests reveal their gender weeks from now, Weber said.

The chicks are the third set for Sidney and Bette. If all goes well, the chicks would remain in the nest for the first three to four weeks, then be moved inside to be hand-reared by the aviary staff.

Megan Harris is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach her at 412-388-5815 or mharris@tribweb.com.

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