An endangered African penguin chick has been hatched at the Minnesota Zoo, a first for the species’ exhibit since it opened in the summer of 2011.
The chick entered this world on March 2, the zoo said in an announcement Tuesday, and is being raised by foster parents — and away from public view — because the newborn’s biological parents were not “incubating the egg consistently.”
There is no immediate word on how soon visitors to the zoo in Apple Valley will be able to see the chick, whose hatching brings the exhibit’s African penguin population to 24.
“We have plans to set up a webcam very soon, hopefully within a few weeks,” said zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard. “Once that’s up, people will be able to watch the chick.”
The newborn weighed in at 2.4 ounces at birth, and has since grown to 1 pound, 6 ounces. Its gender has yet to be determined.
African penguins are native to the continent’s southwest coast and grow to be 26 to 28 inches tall and 6 to 9 pounds.
It will be about 18 months before the little critter loses its fluffy gray exterior and takes on that tuxedo look: black back, face, wings, feet and beak to go with a white front and crown.
As is the case with all types of penguins, the African variety is endangered in the wild. Oil spills, hunting and habitat destruction have killed off 80 percent of its population in the past 50-plus years.
Some 150,000 pairs of African penguins were counted in 1956, when the first full census of the species was conducted. In 2009, 26,000 pairs were counted, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.