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Woodland Park Zoo - Press Release


April 11, 2012

First penguin chicks of the year get a weigh-in

Gigi Allianic, Rebecca Whitham
206.548.2550 |

A pair of Humboldt penguin chicks hatched on April 3 and 5 at Woodland Park Zoo and remain off exhibit under parental care. Shown in photo is a Humboldt penguin chick that hatched at the zoo in 2010 

Photo: Ryan Hawk/Woodland Park Zoo



A couple of Humboldt penguins have hatched, representing the first chicks of the penguin breeding season at Woodland Park Zoo. The media is invited to a sneak peek behind the scenes when animal management weighs the chicks and conducts a close-up assessment of the chicks’ health.

The first chick hatched on April 3 to 4-year-old mother Sardinia and 9-year-old father Groucho. During the hatching of the first egg, the pair’s second egg was rejected by the parents. Staff relocated it under a pair of foster parents where it proceeded to hatch a couple of days later.

Both hatchlings are off exhibit in nesting burrows. As part of the animal protocols for penguin chicks, staff weigh the chicks as they develop. The chicks remain under the care of the parents while staff ensure they are achieving acceptable weight gains. It is the zoo’s goal to minimize staff intervention and allow the parents to raise their chicks and gain parental experience. If necessary, zookeepers offer supplemental feedings to chicks that fall behind the growth curve or if there is a large age difference between siblings.

Four additional eggs are expected to hatch between April 16 and 26.


Thursday, April 12, 9:30-9:45 a.m. A maximum of two media reps will be permitted in the kitchen on a rotational basis. To minimize stress levels for both the chicks and parents, late arrivals cannot be accommodated. 


Behind the scenes at the penguin exhibit. Park in the inner lot at the NORTH end where the admin. offices are located off N. 59th St. & Phinney Ave. N. Meet at the West Entrance for staff escort


Flash is permitted, but not flood lights.


Before the new chicks reach fledging age and go outdoors on exhibit, they will be removed from the nest so keeper staff can condition the birds to approach staff for feeding and other animal care activities. The chicks also will have round-the-clock access to a shallow pool where they can swim in a more controlled and less crowded environment. The chicks will join the colony of penguins in the outdoor exhibit sometime by mid-summer.

Woodland Park Zoo participates in the Species Survival Plan (SSP) for Humboldt penguins. An endangered species, these birds are important conservation ambassadors to teach visitors about the impacts humans have on penguins in their range countries. SSPs are sponsored by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) and led by experts in husbandry, nutrition, veterinary care, behavior, conservation and genetics. AZA-accredited institutions manage each species as one population in North America to maximize genetic diversity, with the goal of ensuring the long-term survival of the population and the health of individual animals.

The penguin exhibit opened in 2009 and garnered the Exhibit Achievement Award from AZA, an award that is equivalent to an Oscar in the zoo and aquarium industry. The exhibit takes zoo visitors to the desert coast of Punta San Juan – home of the largest colony of wild Humboldt penguins in Peru. The 17,000-square-foot naturalistic home features shoreline cliffs, viewable entrances to nesting burrows, rocky tide pools, crashing waves and a beach.

People do not usually think of penguins as a desert species. Unlike their ice and snow-dwelling Antarctic cousins, Humboldt penguins inhabit hot, dry coastlines in Peru and Chile. They live on rocky mainland shores, especially near cliffs, or on coastal islands. Humboldt penguins have a body made to swim. Using their strong wings, they “fly” underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.

It is estimated that only 12,000 survive in the wild. Woodland Park Zoo is committed to conserving Humboldt penguins by supporting the Humboldt Penguin Conservation Center at Punta San Juan, Peru, breeding the birds through the Species Survival Plan and encouraging visitors to choose sustainable seafood options. For information, visit or call 206.548.2500.

Woodland Park Zoo is open 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily through April 30. Admission through April 30: Adult (13-64) id="mce_marker"1.75; Child (3-12) $8.50; Toddler (0-2) free. Active and retired U.S. military and their families, seniors and people with physical disabilities receive an admission discount. Zoo members receive free zoo admission year round. Parking: $5.25.


Accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums, award-winning Woodland Park Zoo is famed for pioneering naturalistic exhibits and setting international standards for zoos in animal care, conservation and education programs. Woodland Park Zoo is helping to save animals and their habitats in the Pacific Northwest and around the world. By inspiring people to care and act, Woodland Park Zoo is making a difference in our planet’s future. For more information, visit

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, education, science, and recreation. Look for the AZA logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting an institution dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. With its more than 200 accredited members, the AZA is a leader in global wildlife conservation, and your link to helping animals in their native habitats. For more information, visit


Woodland Park Zoo saves animals and their habitats through conservation leadership and engaging experiences, inspiring people to learn, care and act.