Cincinnati Zoo Announces Hatch of King Penguin
On July 30, the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s king penguin chick hatched. Two week-old “Kyoto” becomes the 2nd successful king penguin ever to be hatched at the Cincinnati Zoo. The mother, Bebe, laid the egg on June 6 and shared incubation with the father, Larry, for the next 54 days.
Once the chick pipped, or broke through the shell, on July 28, the Zoo’s Aviculture staff transported the egg in a portable incubator to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center’s (CCHMC) Veterinary Services Lab for further evaluation. Dr. Gary L. Keller, Director of CCHMC Veterinary Services Division and R. Scott Dunn, CCHMC certified magnetic resonance (MR) technologist, used Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) to monitor the development of the king penguin embryo. This type of 3-D imaging is invaluable to the Cincinnati Zoo in the investigation of the incubation of king penguin eggs and the micro-climate needed in captivity.
After two hours in an open MRI chamber, the egg was transported back to the Zoo where it hatched two days later on July 30. The father, Larry will continue to brood and feed “Kyoto” for another week until the chick is transferred to a temperature-controlled chiller unit set at 55 Degrees F. inside the Zoo’s Nursery.Both the Nursery staff and Aviculture staff will share the hand-rearing duties, feeding Kyoto approximately every three hours six times a day. Since a chick would never be left alone, a plush penguin will be placed with the chick to simulate a parent, who would normally be in a burrow caring for its young. The presence of the plush also minimizes the chance of the chick imprinting on humans. At feeding time, keepers will place the plush penguin in front of the chick, who vocalizes—a signal for the parent to feed the chick.
The chick will receive (via a syringe) a “fish milkshake” that consists of ground fish, an electrolyte supplement, and vitamins. As the chick progresses in age and weight, the amount of formula it receives will be decreased and the amount of fish and the size of the fish it is fed will increase, until it is able to eat whole fish on its own.
Penguins have been studied for decades, allowing us to monitor the health of their ocean environment. Climate changes, particularly the effect these changes have on the oceans, are a leading factor in the decline of several penguin populations throughout the southern hemisphere. Other factors leading to death and low production of penguin offspring include oil pollution, over-fishing and the introduction of new species. Four species of penguins are facing the immediate threat of extinction. A majority of the seventeen penguin species have continued declined in numbers over the last 30 years. Continual monitoring and conservation efforts are needed in order to save these fascinating animals.
Currently there are approximately 2 million king penguins in the wild. Only 15 zoos in North America have king penguins and the Cincinnati Zoo’s Wings of the World exhibit .is now home to seven. They are one of the few penguin species that continue to do well in the wild. King penguins can be found throughout the southern hemisphere on sub-Antarctic islands. King penguins enjoying eating a variety of prey; however, they prefer small fish and squid. King penguins are the second largest penguin species, growing to be about 3 feet tall and weigh over 30 pounds.
Source: Cincinnati Zoo