The Tennessee Aquarium recently welcomed a pair of penguin chicks into the colony at Penguins' Rock, according to a news release from the Aquarium.
A Gentoo Penguin and Macaroni Penguin finished their hours-long pipping effort (the process of breaking through their eggs) on June 9. The birds have been continually observed on-exhibit during their first several weeks of life by a team of animal care specialists.
Both chicks were found to be "robust, with above-average weights," the release states. They continue to grow at a healthy rate as specialists monitor their development and behavior, according to Senior Aviculturist Loribeth Lee.
"They are right within the weight range they should be and are doing well," Lee said in the release. "Growth will slow down, obviously, but their gains have been impressive."
The chicks' names will be officially selected later this year in a popular-vote contest on the Aquarium's Facebook page. Their genders will remain undetermined until results are returned from tests administered during the penguins' next semi-annual physical, according to the release.
The hatchlings are "strong and vocal" and will soon begin to exhibit distinct personalities, Lee says. During the early weeks of their life, they will eat continuously and reach their full size in less than a year. Within about 75 days, they will have fledged, growing a coat of waterproof feathers that allow them to leave the nest, swim and fend for themselves.
Senior Animal Care Specialist Holly Gibson says even after raising almost two dozen chicks, the arrival of newcomers to Penguins' Rock is always cause for excitement.
"Having chicks this year is exciting," she said in the release. "It was nice to have an off-year last year, but everybody loves penguin babies."
22 chicks - five Macaronis and 17 Gentoos - have hatched and been raised at the Aquarium since Penguins' Rock opened in 2007. The newest chicks are the offspring of parents there. The Macaroni chick is the fourth for its mother, Chaos, and the second for its father, Merlin. The Gentoo is the sixth for veteran parents Bug and Big T, the release states.
Penguin fans can check in on the Gentoo Penguin chick and its parents here via the Aquarium's Penguins' Rock webcam.