Macaroni Penguin “Sweet Pea” Lays The 1st Egg Of 2016 At The Tennessee Aquarium

Monday, April 25, 2016 - by Thom Benson

Tennessee Aquarium senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee and animal trainer Holly Lutz were in the right place at the right time recently. They captured an incredible moment on video while two Macaroni Penguins were roosting in their rocky nest.

Cell phone footage, captured by Ms. Lutz inside the Tennessee Aquarium’s Penguins’ Rock exhibit, shows Sweet Pea (a female Macaroni Penguin) laying an egg while her mate, Paulie, appears to celebrate with a loud call seconds after the egg appears.

“Macaronis often swing their heads from side to side and let out very loud calls as a sign of courtship during nesting season,”said Ms. Lee. “But it was extra sweet to catch Paulie vocalizing right after Sweet Pea laid her egg.”

Aquarium experts placed the nesting rocks in the exhibit on April 1 this year. Since then, the Gentoo and Macaroni penguins have been busily building nests. The Macaroni Penguins are typically the first to start laying eggs while the Gentoos usually start laying eggs a few weeks later. Aquarium guests can observe the courtship, nesting and egg-tending behaviors for the rest of the season which will last through the summer months.

Aquarium aviculturists are hopeful each year for a new group of baby penguins. For now though, aquarium staff and volunteers are sharing in Sweet Pea and Paulie’s excitement for such an extraordinary start to the 2016 nesting season.

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