So cool! Jacksonville Zoo announces newly hatched penguin chick

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announces the hatching of a Magellanic penguin chick ahead of World Penguin Day. (Morgan Purvis/Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Just in time for World Penguin Day this weekend, the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens announced the hatching of a Magellanic penguin chick to parents Oreo and Kowalski.

The chick, who has not yet been named, hatched March 25, and is the fourth successful hatchling for the pair, who have been responsible parents, meaning staff have not had to step in to help raise the chick.

The chick marks the eighth successful hatching at the Zoo since the opening of the Tuxedo Coast exhibit in 2010, and the first since 2019. It comes just in time to celebrate World Penguin Day on Sunday.

The chick hatched on March 25 to parents Oreo and Kowalski. (Morgan Purvis/Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

The chick’s gender is not known yet but will be determined soon through DNA testing.

The little one is expected to make its public debut in the next few months as keepers continue to monitor its growth through weekly weigh-ins. Magellanic penguin chicks usually stay in their nests with the parents for about 70 days before fledging. This is when birds acquire the necessary feathers for independent activity.

“This penguin chick is a great new addition to our Magellenic colony. Our animal care staff have enjoyed watching experienced parents Oreo and Kowalski continue to be exceptional with their new offspring. We are excited to watch this little one grow,” said Mike Taylor, Curator of Herps, Birds, and Others.

Magellanic penguins are one of eight species found in South America and the surrounding islands. They are medium-sized penguins and can weigh between 6-14 pounds, with males being larger than females. Young birds often have a pattern on their feet that are blotched and gradually fade to black by the time they are 10 years old.

This chick marks the eighth successful hatching at the Zoo since the opening of the Tuxedo Coast exhibit in 2010, and the first since 2019. (Morgan Purvis/Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens)

Of the 18 recognized species of penguins, 11 are listing as vulnerable or endangered primarily because of habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change, the Zoo said.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens supports the work of Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), whose primary objective is to reverse the decline of seabird populations through the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of ill, injured, abandoned and oiled seabirds—especially African penguins.

About the Author:

A Jacksonville native and proud University of North Florida alum, Francine Frazier has been with News4Jax since 2014 after spending nine years at The Florida Times-Union.