Penguin Bon Voyage Party Held At The Tennessee Aquarium

Friday, January 24, 2014 - by Hollie Webb

Tennessee Aquarium staff held a "Penguin Bon Voyage" event to send off 11 of their young Gentoo penguins.

Keepers gave two special presentations, teaching the public about the species, and children were able to make penguin crafts.

As part of a population management program for Gentoo and Macaroni penguins, these 11 chicks will be starting a new life at the SeaWorld San Diego facility.

Aquarium officials said, "As part of a network of accredited zoos and aquariums, frequently these animals are shared with others to ensure healthy populations in human care and to reduce pressure on wild populations."

However, the Aquarium will still have lots of penguins; there will be 19 Gentoos that remain, plus the Macaroni population.

Trainer Loribeth Aldrich described the two species while a Gentoo named Shivers followed her around. "Usually," she said, "the Gentoos are very laid back."

In nature, both the Gentoos and Macaronis hail from islands off the coast of Antarctica. As a penguin opened its beak and made a hissing noise, she explained that this was actually a greeting.

She said two of the young penguins bound for SeaWorld were particularly special because they were successfully raised by hand by the trainers and staff, marking a milestone for the Tennessee Aquarium.

She said, "In captivity, it's hard for penguins to raise two chicks." When two sibling chicks fell behind on their weight, the aquarium staff took over in an around-the-clock process. The young penguins had to be fed nearly every three hours.

Ms. Aldrich said it was an intense time, but their success was good news for the penguin program at the Tennessee Aquarium.


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