Endangered African penguin twins hatch at Racine Zoo

Twin African penguin chicks hatch at Racine Zoo

Racine Zoo staff on Wednesday, March 17 announced the arrival of two healthy African penguin chicks, which hatched on March 6 and 8.

Born to parents Robin and Linus, the zoo said the chicks have been growing quickly -- already over five times the size they were when they hatched.

"We could not be more thrilled to welcome these new birds into the world, and to share the exciting news," said Aszya Summers, Racine Zoo curator of animal care and conservation education.

African penguins are endangered, said Racine Zoo Executive Director Beth Heidorn, and face a variety of threats in the wild. 

"The African penguin chicks are doing well and their parents are doing a great job caring for them," Heidorn said.

The Racine Zoo is a member of the African Penguin Species Survival Program, working alongside other accredited AZA zoos and aquariums to ensure healthy African penguin populations both in zoos and in the wild.

The species faces threats, the zoo said, from overfishing, oil spills, loss of habitat, overexploitation for food and climate change.

"The Racine Zoo has been diligently cultivating our African penguin breeding program over the years," Heidorn said. "With the announcement of our new African penguin chicks in 2021, we are especially proud to be making a positive long-term impact on African penguin populations, especially as wild populations decline."

In 2015, the Racine Zoo added four new African penguins to their exhibit in hopes that a larger, more robust colony would encourage breeding. The two new chicks join older brother Kobe, born at the Racine Zoo in 2016 and older sister Harper, born in 2019, in the colony.

While the chicks will be in their nests for a few more weeks as their parents work around the clock to take turns keeping them fed, you may get lucky and catch a glimpse of mom or dad coming from the nest box through the window at the African penguin exhibit at the zoo.

Exclusive penguin apparel is also available for a limited time. Youth and adult shirts, sweatshirts, and sweatpants are available in multiple colors. Funds raised by apparel sales will directly support the care of the penguin chicks. For more information on the chicks or to buy apparel, visit racinezoo.org.

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