The Akron Zoo has a new Humboldt penguin chick — thanks to two Columbus penguins.

The chick hatched last week at the Akron Zoo. Its parents — Dr. Oswald Cobblepot and Big Bertha — live at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. The egg was brought to the Akron Zoo in April under a program to ensure genetic diversity, part of the Humboldt Penguin Species Survival Plan.

“We want to make sure we have this healthy population of species,” zoo spokeswoman Elena Bell said. “In-breeding causes a lot of health issues.”

Akron Zoo Humboldt penguins Pez and Gabriella are fostering the chick. They also are parents to Rico, a penguin chick who hatched at the Akron Zoo in June 2018.

The new chick weighs 1 pound and is doing well, said Bell, the zoo's marketing and public relations manager.

The chick will remain in his or her habitat with Pez and Gabriella before joining the colony. A blood test — the results of which will be available in a couple of weeks — will determine whether the chick is a boy or girl.

Before being introduced to the other penguins, the chick will need to eat on his or her own, lose its down feathers and pass a swim test.

With the chick, the zoo has 13 Humboldt penguins, which are known for having black bands of feathers across their chests and pink splotches on their faces. Since 2003, when the zoo opened Penguin Point, 17 penguin chicks have been hatched.

The hatching follows the April death of Humboldt penguin Emma, who at age 36 was the oldest zoo-born female Humboldt penguin in any Association of Zoos and Aquariums-accredited facility.

Emma had lived more than double the median life expectancy for Humboldt penguins — 16.5 years.

Humboldt penguins — who get their name from the 18th century explorer Alexander von Humboldt — are found on the coasts of Peru and Chile and are currently vulnerable to extinction.

The decline in penguin numbers is partly due to the harvesting of guano — seabird feces — by local farmers for use in agricultural fertilizer. The penguins lay their eggs in dried guano, and the harvesting of the guano destroys nests.

The Akron Zoo at 505 Euclid Ave., just west of downtown, is open 361 days a year including Memorial Day. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and admission is $12 for adults, $10 for senior citizens, $9 for children (ages 2-14). It's free for children under 2. Parking is $3. The zoo is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

For more information, visit www.akronzoo.org or call 330-375-2550.

 

Contact Katie Byard at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.