Minnesota Zoo welcomes 2 newly hatched penguins

  • Updated: November 21, 2013 - 9:44 PM
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The two babies, which won’t develop their tuxedo-like coloring for months, were hatched this week, bringing the zoo’s African penguin exhibit population to 34.

Two African penguin chicks were hatched this week at the Minnesota Zoo, the second such arrival for the species at the zoo in the past eight months.

The pair, genders still undetermined, are still months away from sporting their species’ trademark “formal” appearance. One was hatched Sunday and the other the next day, the zoo said Thursday.

The fuzzy, gray chicks weighed in at 3.16 ounces and 2.54 ounces.

The zoo also welcomed two new penguin babies in March. Those arrivals were the first for the species’ exhibit since it opened in 2011.

This week’s hatchings bring the exhibit’s African penguin population to 34, and more are on the way, zoo spokeswoman Kelly Lessard said.

African penguins are native to the continent’s southwest coast and grow to be 26 to 28 inches tall and 6 to 9 pounds.

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 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.

PAUL WALSH

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