Georgia Aquarium Welcomes African Penguin Chicks
Animal care and veterinary staff helping population in Atlanta & Africa
ATLANTA (March 7, 2013) – Georgia Aquarium is thrilled to announce the birth of multiple African penguin chicks. The young sea birds, whose genders are unknown at this time, hatched within a few weeks of each other in early January. African penguins are listed as endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List.
Georgia Aquarium has partnered with the non-profit wildlife rehabilitation group, Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB,) to study the health of free-ranging African penguins. SANCCOB is a leading marine-orientated organization which has treated more than 90,000 oiled, ill, injured or abandoned African penguins and other threatened seabirds. Georgia Aquarium has given in kind and financial support to aid their work.
Aquarium zoological experts and veterinarians have volunteered their time and expertise to SANCCOB throughout the years. Aquarium staff skilled in penguin care, training and handling participates in the rehabilitation process of stranded African penguins as well as the release of those birds back into their natural habitat. This unique opportunity allows them to expand their knowledge and gain further experience in chick rearing, chick bolstering and health assessments to name a few.
“As a leading facility for aquatic animal conservation and research both in the field and in-house, the Aquarium has the invaluable opportunity to make a difference for this species in their natural habitat,” said Dr. Gregory Bossart, senior vice president of animal care research and conservation at Georgia Aquarium. “Over the years the Aquarium has been able to support SANCCOB’s efforts by contributing conservation funds and man power. Maintaining our relationship with this conservation effort has allowed Aquarium staff members the opportunity to combine their field research with the study of the animals in our care, which aids the Aquarium in contributing to the advancement of human knowledge in the area of animal science.”
Georgia Aquarium is a participating member of the African penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), which provides breeding pair recommendations for participating institutions affiliated by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). Many of Georgia Aquarium’s penguins are genetically valuable to the collection of African penguins in AZA institutions because they are not offspring of birds in the current population, and have yet to produce offspring of their own. Due to Georgia Aquarium’s dedication to maintaining a sustainable population in human care, the African penguin habitat was redesigned to create an environment that closely mimics their natural environment, including seasonal variations in light duration and intensity, which helps to promote natural breeding cycles within the colony. As a result, Georgia Aquarium is now seeing repeated successful breeding with increased numbers of African penguin chicks.
“Georgia Aquarium is committed to conserving and protecting our aquatic world and the species that inhabit it, including the endangered South African penguin,” said William Hurley, chief zoological officer and senior vice president of zoological operations, Georgia Aquarium. “As leaders in aquatic animal care, conservation and research, we are very proud to welcome these African penguin chicks to our collection at Georgia Aquarium. We will continue our commitment of helping to create sustainable animal populations both in the wild as well as in human care for the benefit of present and future generations while educating millions of guests.”
Pictures and video documenting the growth of the chicks can be found at www.georgiaaquariumblog.org. To be among the first to receive announcements about these chicks and other information from the Georgia Aquarium, sign up for e-newsletters at www.georgiaaquarium.org.
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ABOUT GEORGIA AQUARIUM
Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta, Georgia, contains more than 10 million gallons of water and has the largest collection of aquatic animals. The mission of Georgia Aquarium is to be an entertaining, educational and scientific institution featuring exhibits and programs of the highest standards; offering engaging and exciting guest experiences promoting the conservation of aquatic biodiversity throughout the world. Georgia Aquarium is an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums. For additional information, visit www.georgiaaquarium.org.