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Penguin Chick Emerges From Shell at Oregon Zoo

Updated on March 22, 2018
JS Marshall profile image

Animal lover and outdoorsman, John Marshall is a veteran reporter who has worked for The Associated Press and other major news outlets.

A Humboldt penguin chick has hatched at the  Oregon Zoo.
A Humboldt penguin chick has hatched at the Oregon Zoo. | Source

Penguin Chick Causes Quite a Ruckus at Oregon Zoo

An adorable penguin chick is causing quite a bit of excitement among staffers and officials at the Oregon Zoo.

After spending a couple of days trying to work its way out of its shell, the Humboldt penguin chick emerged on the morning of March 9. According to zoo officials, it typically takes about three days for the chicks to break out of their shells.

The young penguin, described as a “fluffy gray plush toy," is so small it can fit in the palm of a hand. Its gender won’t be known for a few weeks.

"The first hatching went really well," Gwen Harris, the zoo's senior keeper of birds, said in a statement posted on the zoo’s website. "The chick appears to be healthy and active, and its parents — Linus and Luna — are caring for it well."


Humboldt Penguin Chick is Hungry After Breaking Out of its Shell At The Oregon Zoo

More Penguin Chicks Expected Soon

It’s the 189th Humboldt chick to hatch at the Oregon Zoo, which is located in Portland, since the facility began breeding the threatened species in the 1980s.

Two other penguin pairs are sitting on fertile eggs, raising hopes among zoo officials that more chicks will hatch before the breeding season is over.

In the wild, Humboldt penguins live along the rocky coasts of Chile and Peru, where their torpedo-shaped bodies give them the ability to shoot through the chilly Pacific waters at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour, according to National Geographic. They can also dive nearly 500 feet underwater.

Humboldt Penguin Population in Decline

It’s estimated there were more than a million Humboldt penguins living along the South American coast during the middle of the 19th century, but the nonprofit conservation group The Center for Biological Diversity, estimates there are only now about 3,300 Humboldt penguins living in the wild.

Though protected by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, changes in ocean currents and temperatures in the Pacific Ocean, which have reduced the amount of fish, anchovies, herring and smelt -- favorites of the Humboldt penguins -- appears to be leading to the deaths of more penguins. The penguins are also imperiled by the mining of guano deposits -- where the sea birds nest -- as well as by commercial fishing operations and oil pollution.

The Center for Biological Diversity estimates there are only about 3,300 Humboldt penguins living in the wild.
The Center for Biological Diversity estimates there are only about 3,300 Humboldt penguins living in the wild. | Source

Newborn Penguin Chicks out of Public View Until Summer

The penguin chick recently hatched and the ones expected to hatch soon will be kept out of the public’s view until some time this summer. Zoo officials say when the young Humboldt penguins are allowed to be seen by the public, visitors should have great views of the penguins as they zip about the waters of the zoo's penguinarium.

Besides the penguins, visitors to the Oregon Zoo can also see a basketball-dunking sea otter named Eddie, who recently turned 20. Zoo officials say Eddie, trained to dunk baskets, is one of the world’s oldest known otters.

People wanting to more information about the Oregon Zoo’s penguins and other exhibits can check out its website at https://www.oregonzoo.org/.


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