This January, the Zoological Care Staff at the Cincinnati Zoo prepared to welcome their first baby of 2016. Either a Little Blue Penguin chick or a baby Aardvark would be the first lovely little face to kick off the new year. However, the race ended at 6 A.M. on January 8 with the hatching of an adorable Little Penguin chick. They have decided to name the new arrival Bowie, after the rock legend who shares his birthday. The name has since become even more meaningful with the music icon’s recent passing.
“The zoo celebrates Penguin Days during January and February, so it’s fitting that a penguin chick would be the first little one to arrive in 2016,” said Zoo Director Thane Maynard.
The Cincinnati Zoo currently has the largest colony of Little Blue Penguins in North America, with 33 individuals. However, Little Penguins, unlike Antarctic penguins such as King or Gentoo Penguins, prefer more mild temperatures. Because of this, guests are not likely to see the new chicks or the rest of the colony until spring.
The Little Blue Penguin is the smallest of the penguin species, and is found on the coastlines of southern Australia and New Zealand. After reaching sexual maturity at around three years of age, these tiny penguins will choose a mate and remain partners for life. Though their conservation status is listed as least concern, there are worries about their reproduction rate. Since they only live an average of 6½ years in the wild, a pair will often mate only a few times during their life. Despite their low average lifespan, they have been known to live up to 25 years in human care.
With the largest colony of Little Blue Penguins in all of North America, there are most likely more eggs being incubated. With that being said, we can expect to see more of these adorable, pint sized penguin chicks in the upcoming months of 2016!