Chattanooga: Tennessee Aquarium penguins produce an egg

Chattanooga: Tennessee Aquarium penguins produce an egg

May 18th, 2009 by Adam Crisp in Local Regional News

Two birds at the Tennessee Aquarium soon may be parents if everything goes according to plan.

Paulie and Chaos, macaroni Penguins housed in the aquarium's Penguins' Rock exhibit, produced an egg about five days ago, aquarium officials said. If it's fertile, a chick may hatch in 30 to 39 days.

"Today marks day number five since the day the second egg was laid, so we have a long way to go," said Amy Graves, the aquarium's senior aviculturist.

The pair has produced two eggs this mating season. The first was broken by the parents almost immediately, which is common behavior, Ms. Graves said.

"Macaroni penguins on exhibit or in the wild lay two eggs," Ms. Graves said. "The first egg is 50 to 60 percent smaller than the second egg and is usually kicked out of the nest or crushed by the parents."

If the egg is fertile, the chick will have to hatch without any parental help. This process, called pipping, can take 24 to 48 hours to complete. After that, the chick's struggles continue, said Dave Collins, the aquarium's curator of forests.

"Newborn chicks must overcome high infant mortality rates and have diligent parents," Mr. Collins said. "Paulie and Chaos would be first-time parents, so hopefully their instincts will be strong enough to raise a chick successfully."

Ms. Graves said aquarium personnel won't interfere during the incubation period. If the parents lose interest in the egg, caretakers won't step in. But once the bird is hatched, zoologists will monitor the bird and provide assistance if necessary, she said.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Chattanooga Times Free Press.