Incredibly cute baby penguin makes debut at ZooTampa

You can theoretically adopt it, too.

click to enlarge Incredibly cute baby penguin makes debut at ZooTampa
Photo courtesy of ZooTampa


UPDATED 4/18 4:03 p.m.

Zoo Tampa at Lowry Park was already home to 18 African penguins, but two of the joint’s birds (Thumbelina and Rocky) gone done and made a baby, bringing the zoo’s penguin count to 19.

The still-unnamed chick was hatched on March 25 and weighed in at 61 grams.

A press release from ZooTampa says that this particular bird is native to the coastlines of South Africa and Namibia and one of five true warm weather species. The flightless birds are considered endangered in the wild thanks to food shortages from commercial fishing, oil spills, egg collection and fishing nets. African penguin populations declined more than 50 percent during the last 40 years, but ZooTampa participates in the AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction program which focuses on having animal experts identify threats, develop action plans, raise new resources and educate visitors on animal conservation.

ZooTampa board chairwoman Marylou Bailey won a gala fundraiser auction to name to the penguin, according to zoo spokesperson Andrea Alva, who added that a name has not yet been decided since it’s difficult to tell a penguin chick’s gender.

“A DNA blood test will be used to determine the gender of the chicks when they are old enough,” Alva wrote in an email to CL. “The Zoo uses bands on the adult penguins’ flippers to show the gender – right flippers for males and left flippers for females. The Zoo will reveal the gender and name of the chick in the near future.”

The birth is good news for the zoo, which was dealing with some controversy in late 2018 before it opened an upgraded manatee rehabilitation center last month.

CL has reached out to the zoo to see how and if it’ll name the baby. Have a look at another pic and video below and consider symbolically adopting this chick via zootampa.org.

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About The Author

Ray Roa

Read his 2016 intro letter and disclosures from 2022 and 2021. Ray Roa started freelancing for Creative Loafing Tampa in January 2011 and was hired as music editor in August 2016. He became Editor-In-Chief in August 2019. Past work can be seen at Suburban Apologist, Tampa Bay Times, Consequence of Sound and The...
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