SEATTLE ‒ Two Humboldt penguins that hatched last week at Woodland Park Zoo represented the first chicks of the zoo’s penguin breeding season. However, if not for the sharp eyes of a little boy, the second egg might have perished.
The zoo hopes to find this little hero to properly thank him for his keen observation and help in rescuing the egg. If anyone knows this mystery boy, please contact the zoo by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
On April 3 while the first egg was hatching, the young boy, while enjoying the penguin exhibit, alerted the keeper that he could see an egg on a cliff in the exhibit. The keeper, Celine Pardo, immediately followed the boy’s instructions and scooped up the egg. The egg was rushed indoors and relocated under a pair of foster parents; it hatched on April 5.
By the time Pardo rescued the egg and returned to the exhibit to personally thank the boy, he had already left the exhibit. The boy is described as 7 or 8 years old with blonde, curly hair; he was wearing a white t-shirt and was extremely polite. “We are so grateful to this little boy for helping us save this precious bird. If a crow or seagull had scooped up the egg, it would have been a goner,” said Pardo. “We’d like to find him and extend an invitation to go behind the scenes to meet the chick and help name it. This story of this chick shows how visitors of all ages can help support the care of animals at the zoo and, in this case, help save an endangered animal.”
The two chicks hatched to 4-year-old mother Sardinia and 9-year-old father Groucho and currently weigh between 9 and 11 oz. They just emerged in the public spotlight yesterday after the press was invited behind the scenes for a weigh-in and health assessment. The chicks will remain off exhibit until mid-summer. Their gender has not been determined.
Before the new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they will be removed from the nest so keeper staff can condition the birds to approach staff for feeding and other animal care activities. The chicks also will have round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment.
Four additional eggs are expected to hatch between April 16 and 26.
Humboldt penguins are an endangered species, with only an estimated 12,000 surviving in the wild. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, this particular species inhabits hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile, living on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands.
Woodland Park Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Humboldt penguins, important conservation ambassadors to teach visitors about the impacts humans have on penguins in their range countries. SSPs are sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, conservation and genetics. AZA-accredited institutions manage each species as one population in North America to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the population and the health of individual animals.
Woodland Park Zoo is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through April 30. For more information or to become a zoo member, visit www.zoo.org. Or call 206.548.2500 or 548.2599 (TTY).