Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Tanganyika Wildlife Park welcomed two African penguin chicks this winter. These are the first African penguin chicks born in the state of Kansas. The chicks hatched in mid-January – one on the 13th and the other following on the 15th. The fluffy, down-feathered babies were small enough to fit into the palm of a zookeeper’s hand, according to Stephanie Jeter, Tanganyika’s General Curator. The chicks remained with their parents for about three weeks before the decision was made to move them to the nursery, where staff could keep a closer eye on their progress.
Currently, the chicks are doing well and are being hand-fed a steady diet of trout. They weigh approximately 4 pounds each. One chick has been named R Kell (pronounced ar-kel), but the other has yet to receive its official name. A blood test must be done to determine whether the chicks are male or female, and Tanganyika staff plan to wait until the chicks are a little older before testing them.
African penguins, also known as black-footed or jackass penguins, are warm-weather penguins found off the coast of South Africa. Fish make up approximately 40% of the African penguin’s diet, which also includes crustaceans and squid. African penguins mate for life, and both parents care for their young. It is estimated that 120,000 African penguins remain in the wild. Due to a 90% decline in population over the past 60 years, the International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the African penguin as endangered.
The penguin chicks will be revealed when Tanganyika opens for its “Early Bird” Preview on Sunday, March 14th. Tanganyika will be open to members and media personnel from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors will also be the first to see another baby, also the first of its species born in Kansas. The identity of the second baby will be revealed on the 14th. The general public will have an opportunity to see the new baby penguins starting March 15th through the 21st.
Tanganyika Wildlife Park is an organization dedicated to the conservation of exotic and endangered species. The Park has been operating since 1986 and first opened to the public August 2nd, 2008. Tanganyika Wildlife Park is west of 183rd St on Maple. The Wildlife Park’s hours are 9:00-5:00 Daily. For more information on the Park, please visit www.twpark.com.