Tennessee Aquarium welcomes new baby penguin - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Tennessee Aquarium welcomes new baby penguin

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) – The Tennessee Aquarium is welcoming a new baby penguin today.

The new gentoo chick came into the world late yesterday after a day-long hatching process called pipping. "We started to see the beak poking through a small hole in the shell late Tuesday," said aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. "Early last evening the chick was completely out and vocalizing."

Keepers say the first few weeks of the new chick's life will be the most challenging. "We'll have staff and volunteers observing to make sure the parents are feeding the chick consistently and keeping it warm and sheltered from other curious penguins," said Kevin Calhoon, the Aquarium's assistant curator of forests.

"Biscuit has fed the chick several times already this morning," said Aldrich. "In many cases it may take a day for the parents to start feeding their baby, so this is an encouraging sign."

While Biscuit is keeping the chick warm, Blue stands over the new mother and baby making sure other penguins keep from getting too close. "This behavior is important to help protect the rather fragile chick," said Dave Collins, the Aquarium's curator of forests.

Visitors get a chance to catch glimpses of the baby penguin whenever the parents stand up for a moment.

Calhoon already modified Biscuit and Blue's nest to increase the level of safety for new baby. "We used a pair of small tire inner tubes which are filled with sand to raise the sides of their nest," said Calhoon. "This will help keep the tiny chick from venturing outside the nest and ending up in the water."

Aquarium officials say more baby gentoos could be on the way, another pair of penguins is tending to an egg that could hatch in late July.

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