A large number of African penguin babies are born at a science museum in San Francisco.

A large number of African penguin babies are born at a science museum in San Francisco.

Ten baby African penguins have successfully hatched at a science museum in San Francisco within the past year, as part of a conservation initiative for the at-risk species.

In November 2022, the penguins started to hatch, marking the end of a four-year span with no new chicks. This continued until January of this year, as announced by the California Academy of Sciences on Wednesday.

According to the academy, the number of breeding pairs of African penguins in the wild has decreased to 9,000.

Brenda Melton, the director of animal care and well-being at the Steinhart Aquarium, stated that the populations of the charming black-and-white birds have been decreased due to various threats such as overfishing, habitat degradation, and oil spills.

She stated that each new chick we receive improves the genetic makeup and overall size of the species being cared for by humans.

During the initial three weeks, young penguins reside in a nest box with their parents. Afterwards, they enroll in “fish school” where they are taught how to swim and feed themselves with fish provided by biologists. Once they have mastered these skills, they are introduced to the rest of the penguin colony.

According to the website of the academy, the 21 penguins at Golden Gate Park’s museum each have unique characteristics and can be recognized by their wristbands.

Opal, who is 36 years old, has become skilled at catching fish while they are airborne. Her companion, Pete, is a messy eater and has a tendency to flirt.

Stanlee and Bernie, who share a love for braying, bred four out of the 10 chicks. One of the chicks, Fyn, was named after a plant commonly found in the southernmost region of Africa. Fyn is the youngest chick on display and the older sibling to Nelson and Alice, both born in November.

Fyn often runs up to biologists when they enter the habitat and shakes her head at them — typical courtship behavior that chicks and juveniles commonly display toward people who have cared for them since hatching.

The newest hatchling was born on January 12th, but its gender has not been identified yet.

In the natural habitat, African penguins have a lifespan of up to 27 years, while in captivity they can live even longer.

Source: wral.com