SeaWorld San Diego is abuzz with excitement as they announce the hatching of an Emperor Penguin chick, marking a rare event that hasn’t happened in 13 years. The female chick emerged from its shell with assistance from the dedicated zoo staff on September 12, according to the park’s announcement.
Justin Brackett, SeaWorld’s birds curator, expressed the significance of the occasion, stating, “This is the most exciting thing we’ll do all year, potentially all decade.”
Emperor penguins, classified as a threatened species, are native to Antarctica. Seventeen of these majestic creatures reside in a habitat maintained at a frigid 25 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 5 Celsius) within the marine theme park and zoo. The egg, from which the chick hatched, was laid on July 7.
The zoo’s penguin habitat is home to approximately 300 penguins of various species. However, the SeaWorld team took special pride in the successful hatching of the Emperor Penguin, as emphasized by Melissa Ramsey, SeaWorld’s supervisor of birds, who played a role in the penguin’s hatching.
The Emperor Penguin (Aptenodytes forsteri) stands as the largest of all penguin species, with heights reaching up to 3.7 feet (1.15 meters) and weights of up to 99 pounds (45 kilograms), as noted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).
In a unique aspect of their reproductive cycle, the female Emperor Penguin lays just one egg annually, unlike other penguin species that produce multiple eggs. After laying the egg, the female typically returns to the sea to feed, leaving the male responsible for incubating the egg for over two months without eating. Emperor penguins often mate for life, as highlighted by the WWF.
In this particular case, since the mother did not transfer the egg to the father, the SeaWorld staff took charge of caring for the egg. On September 7, they observed movement and sounds coming from the egg. Following 72 hours without significant progress, the SeaWorld team delicately made a hole in the egg to assist the chick’s emergence over the next two days, as explained by Ramsey.
Subsequently, the team identified a beak malformation in the chick, which had hindered its hatching, according to Brackett.
SeaWorld has extended an invitation to the public to name the newly hatched penguin chick. They have presented three candidate names for voting through Instagram or email: Pearl, Pandora, and Astrid.