Tennessee Aquarium Announces First Penguin Chick Of 2014

Aviculturists Happy With Bouncing Baby Macaroni

Monday, July 14, 2014 - by Thom Benson
- photo by Tennessee Aquarium

There’s a fluffy new face in the Tennessee Aquarium’s Penguins’ Rock exhibit. Aviculturists welcomed the new chick to the colony in June. The proud parents, “Chaos” and “Merlin,” stay busy snuggling their baby in the nest and seem to enjoy showing it off to everyone.

“Both parents have very laid back personalities, which is helpful when we need to do weight checks and clean the nest,” said senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “They’re also a great parental team. Merlin serves as protector and Chaos does a great job feeding.”

Chaos certainly keeps busy since this tiny bird has a giant appetite. Aquarium guests can have fun eavesdropping on this family. A microphone inside the exhibit picks up the chick’s vocalizations whenever it begs to be fed, which seems to be almost constantly lately. The sounds of the colony are audible throughout Penguins’ Rock. But, mom responds to the begging and appears to be keeping pace. Her baby consistently weighs in at the high end of the healthy range during veterinary exams. “Baby penguins should experience rapid growth,” said Ms. Graves. “We track each chick’s progress through frequent weigh-ins and compare the results to the ranges we know are considered healthy. Since this penguin is staying pretty pudgy, it’s clear that the parents are doing a great job with feeding.”

The Aquarium’s penguin experts hope this “big mac” sets a good example for the chicks that follow it. Both in demeanor and rapid growth.

Last year aviculturists had their hands full supplementing feedings for a couple of chicks up to five times each day when sluggish weight gains indicated the parents were not delivering enough nutrition on their own.

Aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich says even though the chick is very vocal, it seems to have inherited its parent’s demeanor. “He’s pretty laid-back and easygoing,” said Ms. Aldrich. “The chick doesn’t mind being handled during exams or being photographed.”

This is quite a switch from “Pepper,” another Macaroni who was also the Aquarium’s very first baby penguin hatchling in 2009. “She was a feisty bird almost from the day she hatched,” said Ms. Aldrich.

Earlier this year, Pepper and ten other penguins that were reared at the Aquarium were moved to other institutions accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. They will have the opportunity to have offspring of their own while bolstering the overall genetic diversity of the Macaroni and Gentoo population in human care. This transfer also affords the Aquarium’s colony more flipper room during the breeding season.

This new Macaroni penguin is the first for the 2014 season and it’s possible that aviculturists will remain very busy this season with additional chicks.

Visitors can see the new chick inside an acrylic “playpen” on the right-hand side of the exhibit. It will remain inside this protective barrier for several more weeks before it will be allowed to roam outside the nest. “Penguins need their waterproof swim feathers before they are ready to go out on their own,” said Ms. Graves. “Right now, the chick is still dependent on mom and dad, but they seem to like that just fine.”

The chick’s gender will be determined during a blood test later this year. At that time, a Facebook contest is planned to find the perfect name for him or her.

Guests who may want a “bird’s eye” view during nesting season, can choose to add the Ocean Journey Backstage Pass to their regular Aquarium admission. This behind-the-scenes experience allows guests into one of the “Keepers Only” areas to see the nesting penguins, eggs and at least one plump little penguin.

- Photo2 by Tennessee Aquarium

Diamond Rio, Patriot Festival In Pigeon Forge Both Celebrate 25 Years Of Entertainment

Diamond Rio, the multi-award-winning country music band that marked 25 years together last year, is helping Pigeon Forge’s Patriot Festival on  July 4  mark its 25 th  anniversary of celebrating Independence Day.   Diamond Rio – a member act of the Grand Ole Opry that has sold 10 million albums and won multiple Country Music Association Awards, a Grammy ... (click for more)

Tennessee Aquarium Announces First Baby Penguin Of 2015

Full of surprises. That’s how Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee describes the first baby penguin of 2015. “This chick started hatching four days before we were expecting it,” said Ms. Lee. “But at the first weigh-in, three days later,  it was clear that the parents were doing a great job feeding this little bird.” The newest Macaroni Penguin in Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Boyd Asks Coppinger, Compton To Apologize For Chief Of Staff's Outburst; Says Handbook Calls For Termination

County Commissioner Tim Boyd has written a letter to fellow commissioners and the county mayor's office asking an apology from County Mayor Jim Coppinger and his chief of staff, Mike Compton, for remarks after last week's commission meeting. Mr. Compton took strong exception to comments by County Commissioner Tim Boyd about discretionary funds. In a clash between the two just ... (click for more)

Settlement Reached In Case That Was County's Largest Verdict Award; Will Avoid Any Appeals Of Canyon Ridge Litigation

A settlement has been reached in the case in which a Hamilton County Circuit Court jury awarded over $32 million to Chattanooga developer Duane Horton in connection with a resort project on Lookout Mountain that never got off the ground. Circuit Court Judge J.B. Bennett said the two sides had informed him that it was agreed during a mediation session he ordered that there would ... (click for more)

On The News Tonight: A Reflection On A Horrifying Crash And Its Aftermath

On the news tonight,  on the news tonight. The unobtrusive tones on the news tonight. It's just make-believe You can't believe everything you see So baby, close your eyes to the lullabies On the news tonight.   "The News" by Jack Johnson On Journalism On Thursday I was in Jackson, Tennessee playing music. I was a minimum of four hours away ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Tonight, Take A Second

Peter Whibberley, known globally as “The Time Lord,” will freely tell anyone, “There are consequences of tinkering with time,” but tinker we must because the world – planet Earth -- is spinning slower. So tonight at 7:59:60 p.m. EDT, the Senior Research Scientist at Britain’s National Physical Laboratory will add an extra second to the hour – and our day -- before it becomes 8:00 ... (click for more)