Even though the Shedd Aquarium temporarily shut its doors, the Magellanic and rockhopper penguins still prepared for breeding season. Animal care experts helped facilitate by shifting the light cycle and scattering nesting materials in the Polar Play Zone exhibit. During quarantine, between building nests and taking field trips around the aquarium, the penguins welcomed four Magellanic chicks. 


The first chicks hatched on May 18, and the final chick joined on May 21, with all the new arrivals weighing in around 66-85 grams upon hatch. All of the chicks are being raised by adults who feed and incubate the baby birds. With four new arrivals, this is the most Magellanic penguins born and bred at the aquarium following the annual breeding season.


The animal care team conducts quick daily check-ups with the hatchlings to monitor growth and ensure all four chicks continue to hit critical milestones. Since hatching, the birds now weigh between 1200 and 2000 grams showing that they are receiving the proper nutrients to help them grow. The penguins will be at their full size after two to three months.  Until then caretakers will monitor the hatchlings for additional milestones, as well as tracking vocalizations, hydration levels, grooming and more. 

The chicks have become more mobile. While they are not ready to take field trips around the aquarium, they have been socializing with their caretakers and each other. 


In the coming months, the animal care team will determine the sex of the chicks. The hatchlings will get named before making a public debut in the exhibit.

While Shedd Aquarium has been closed to the public since mid-March, their animal care efforts have not slowed down. To mitigate the financial impacts of the closure, the public can support Shedd Aquarium’s mission and dedication to top-quality animal care by symbolically adopting a penguin. All adopters will receive a plush penguin, a photo of the animal and regular updates on the birds. The public can also support the aquarium by donating to its reopening campaign, It’s Time, or by signing up to become a member.

—Jennifer Swartvagher

All photos courtesy of Shedd Aquarium/Brenna Hernandez


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