Monday, February 18, 2008

Humboldt Baby at Brookfield Zoo

This Humboldt penguin chick hatched Jan. 31 at Chicago's Brookfield Zoo.

The chick is now being fed by hand after not gaining enough weight naturally. Six times a day, the unnamed penguin swallows down a "shake" made of liquefied herring, cepelin fish, vitamins and Pedialyte -- the dehydration fluid familiar to most moms and dads.

The chick lives in a temperature-controlled brooder shared with plush penguins to minimize the chance of the chick becoming attached to humans.

Humboldt penguins ... did you know?

• Using their wings as flippers, Humboldts "fly" underwater, usually just below the surface, at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour. They steer with their feet and tail.

• A special gland allows them to drink salt water.

• Humboldts lay their eggs in layers of dried feces, or guano, left by seabirds.

• Once numbering in hundreds of thousands, their population is now estimated to be about 41,000. Guano harvesting -- it's used in fertilizer and gunpowder -- as well as overfishing and climate change has stressed the breed.

• They avoid over-heating by flushing pink on their face, wings and feet. This sheds body heat by sending blood to the bare part of their bodies.

• Humboldts live approximately 20 years in the wild and up to 30 years in zoos. They weigh about 10 pounds. The South American natives are found off the coasts of Peru and Chile.

Source: Chicago Sun-Times

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