Love Is Complicated: New Valentine Penguin Chick Finds Solace While Courtship Continues at Moody Gardens

Love is in the air at Moody Gardens. A King penguin chick hatched last week and is being well cared for by its mother and father as the newest addition to the Aquarium Pyramid. Some territorial issues have even required the new penguin family to be moved to a temporary quiet setting for the time being.

The proud parents are Professor, one of Moody Gardens original King penguins that was hatched aboard a Russian research vessel as the Moody Gardens staff returned from an expedition to South Georgia Island to collect the penguin eggs in 1998 for the opening of the Aquarium Pyramid in 1999. The new chicks mother is Fischer who is originally from Sea World San Antonio.

The new family encountered some space issues inside the South Atlantic penguin exhibit when two male pairs of King penguins became territorial over space near the new chick. The new family has been safely moved to a separate area where they will remain until the new chick is old enough to take care of itself.

Our staff is thrilled to start February with a new penguin chick and it makes Valentines Day that much more special, said Assistant Curator Diane Olsen.

Successful penguin breeding usually begins with a series of courtship rituals including different callings and parading. King penguin males work to impress females by standing tall and showing off their physique. Females choose the male they like and they will call and parade with each other before mating. King penguins incubate their eggs on their feet, so no nest is needed. Typically once an egg is laid both the male and female will stay with the egg and take turns incubating it.

Every successful hatch that Moody Gardens has adds to the mission of education, conservation, recreation and research that the organization values. Every chick that is hatched at Moody Gardens adds to the sustainability of penguins in zoos and aquariums all over the world, said Olsen, adding that increasing the number of King penguins in the Moody Gardens collection helps to increase breeding success and genetic diversity in the future. It also benefits the population of penguins kept at facilities accredited by AZA (Association of Zoos and Aquariums), like Moody Gardens because it allows the facilities to transfer penguins between themselves to further breeding efforts.

Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the United States. In addition to the King penguins, five other species including Gentoo, Chinstrap, Macaroni, and Rockhopper penguins also call the South Atlantic Exhibit home. The warm-climate Humboldt penguins live in an exhibit right next door to their chilly-aired friends. With over one million gallons of water, the building houses marine life from five distinct environments and the collection includes not only penguins but sting rays, sharks, seals and sea lions as well as several different species of fish.

For more information call 409-744-4673 or visit www.moodygardens.org. Guests can observe the penguins with a live webcam at the exhibit at this website as well.

Moody Gardens is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.

Media Relations:

Kevin Aguilar

Office: 409-683-4209

Cell: 409-370-4585

[email protected]

Jerri Hamachek

Office: 409-683-4249

Cell: 409-789-2607

[email protected]