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Racine Zoo officials introduce African penguin chick that hatched on New Year’s Day

RACINE — Racine Zoo officials on Monday, Jan. 21 introduced a tiny newborn African penguin chick, born on New Year’s Day, Jan. 1.

According to a news release from the Racine Zoo, this is the third African penguin chick to hatch at the zoo. The other two were born in January of 2016.

When the newest chick hatched, it weighed just 63 grams, about the size of a “C” battery. As of Monday, the chick weighed just over two pounds.

The parents, Robben (age 12) and Linus (age 6) were said to be “doing a great job caring for their new chick.”

“The Racine Zoo has been diligently cultivating our African penguin breeding program over the years,” said Beth Heidorn, executive director of the Racine Zoo. “With the announcement of our new African penguin chick in 2019, we are especially proud to be making a positive long-term impact on African penguin populations, especially as wild populations decline.”

The chick’s gender will be determined in the coming months — through blood samples.

Meanwhile, the chick will be monitored as it grows, and it’s expected that the chick will be on display before summer. Zoo officials noted penguins can be seen through the exhibit’s viewing window, but since the chick is tucked inside its nest, it may be difficult to see until then.

The Racine Zoo added four penguins to its colony in December of 2015 — helping to recreate a colony of African penguins similar in size to what is found in the wild.

Below is more information about African penguins, courtesy the Racine Zoo:

“African penguins are found on the southern tip of Africa and spend most of the day feeding in the ocean and staying cool in the hot climate. Adult African penguins can weigh up to nine pounds and live to 20 years in the wild and up to 40 years under human care. Their diet consists of small fish, shellfish and squid. There are only about 50,000 African penguins left in the wild, according to 2013 estimates. The main threats to their survival include environmental issues such as habitat loss, oil spills, water pollution and commercial overfishing.”

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