2 New Babies - Biscuit and Blue Are Perfect Penguin Parents

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 - by Thom Benson

A pair of baby penguins is capturing hearts at the Tennessee Aquarium. Gentoo penguins “Biscuit” and “Blue” are the proud parents of not one, but TWO new penguin chicks. The fluffy babies, hatched in early June, are both being raised on exhibit by their parents.

Acting like toddlers, the baby penguins are already exploring their nest.

As any mom or dad would agree, becoming a parent twice in such a short span of time is certainly a challenge. But Aquarium experts say Biscuit and Blue are seasoned parents and have been doing a great job of raising the rather vocal duo. “This is the first time we’ve had a penguin pair successfully raise two chicks without much intervention from staff and volunteers,” said senior aviculturist Loribeth Lee. “We know the best environment for a new penguin chick is in the nest with their parents. But in past years, when any of our couples have had two eggs hatch, we’ve ended up hand raising one chick off exhibit or introducing a set of surrogate parents. So far these two are growing very well thanks to all the hard work by Biscuit and Blue.”

Last year Biscuit and Blue served as surrogate parents to another chick.

When Bug and Big T’s first egg hatched in 2015, they were having difficulty keeping both their chick and their second egg underneath themselves. So the second egg was moved into Biscuit and Blue’s nest since they did not have any viable eggs last year. Aquarium aviculturists think the extra practice helped prepare them to be such great parents to their own chicks this year.

Not only are the two new chicks at healthy weights – an important indicator tracked by penguin keepers – but they are actually a little large for their age, and one of the chicks is noticeably chubbier than his or her sibling. Keepers can also tell them apart by the bigger chick’s lighter coloring and bolder personality.

Ms. Lee says while the chicks are growing fast, they are not quite ready for life outside the nest. “They are both interested in exploring the nest when they think we are not around, but as soon as you come close they still hide their heads under mom or dad.”

Family bonds are very important among all penguin species. Aviculturists are seeing this play out in a new way with the new Gentoo chicks. “Something we noticed when the chicks were smaller was that any time both parents were in the nest, mom and dad would both sit on one chick each. That’s pretty unique. We haven’t seen a penguin family do that here before,” said Lee.

Aquarium guests can view the chicks in their nest near the left side of the Aquarium’s Penguins’ Rock exhibit. The rock nest is surrounded by acrylic panels to keep the chicks safe and block any curious neighbors who might want to peek in on the family.

Aquarium experts will also point out the chicks during daily penguin programs at 10:30 am and 3:30 pm.

Watch Gentoo and Macaroni penguins on the Tennessee Aquarium Penguins’ Rock live camera: http://www.tnaqua.org/animals-exhibits/penguins-rock-cam

Blowing Springs Farm Opens Sept. 28

Blowing Springs Farm opens Sept. 28 with an all-new corn maze design and new supersized board games, like jumbo checkers and giant dice. The award-winning event’s 17th season is happening every Friday - Sunday through Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.    Adults and kids alike can enjoy classic fall festival activities such as a pumpkin market, hayrides, duck races, pedal ... (click for more)

This Week's Tennessee Tourism Roundup

  The Soundtrack of America is Made in Tennessee and you can hear great music at festivals like Tina Turner Heritage Days, Americana Music Festival & Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion. Here’s a look at other festivals and fall-themed activities going on across the state this week. For a complete list of events, visit ... (click for more)

Government Says Former Pilot Travel Centers President Hazelwood Should Be Sentenced To 168-210 Months; Hearing Projected To Take 11 Hours Over 2 Days

The government is asking that former Pilot Travel Centers president Mark Hazelwood be sentenced to between 168-210 months for his part in a fraud against truckers. The government is also asking that Hazelwood be ordered to pay a $750,000 fine. It was noted that all restitution has been made by Pilot to the tune of some $100 million. Attorney Brad Henry, of Knoxville and New ... (click for more)

Mother Of 15-Year-Old Killed By His Father Said McElrath Had Been Acting "Manic"

The mother of a 15-year-old boy who was killed by his father said Michael McElrath had been acting "manic" in the days leading up to the tragic incident in Hixson on Aug. 18. Judge Alex McVeigh bound a charge of criminal homicide against McElrath, a former jail officer, to the Grand Jury. He is charged in the death of Dylan McElrath, who was a sophomore at Hixson High School. ... (click for more)

Arming Teachers With Guns Will Be Too Dangerous - And Response (3)

Arming teachers with guns in the classroom, as Bill Lee proposes, would be the single most dangerous thing to happen to students in Tennessee history. Students and teachers in close proximity to loaded firearms daily? Across this state, in middle schools alone, there are probably hundreds of student/teacher conflicts a day. What if a student got hold of gun in a struggle with ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Scream ‘Sexual Assault!’

Candace Owens, a communications director for the conservative non-profit “Turning Point,” wasted not a minute’s time as the Democratic debauchery of Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh raced like a prairie fire across America. There is little doubt that many politicians -- on either side of the aisle -- play a little loose with the truth. But this Eleventh Hour attack on the ... (click for more)