Two gentoo penguin chicks hatched this week at the Kansas City Zoo, and officials say they are being nourished on regurgitated fish from adults.
The first chick hatched Monday and is being cared for by surrogate parents. The second hatched Wednesday and is being cared for by its biological parents. A third chick could hatch before the end of the year.
Both chicks were the product of a single pair of penguins. In the wild it is common for one chick to survive and the other to die. To increase the chances of both chicks surviving, zookeepers entrusted one egg to another pair of penguins, said zoo spokeswoman Julie Neemeyer.
All four adults were happy with the arrangement, Neemeyer said.
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A Humboldt penguin chick hatched in May and lived 37 days before it died of kidney failure. That was the first penguin birth at the zoo since it opened its $15 million penguin exhibit in the fall of 2013.
Gentoo penguins are cold-climate birds and the third-largest penguin species. They are the fastest swimmers among the zoo’s four penguin species.
Visitors to the zoo may find it difficult to spot the chicks for several weeks as they are kept warm beneath the belly of a parent in a nest made of rocks. But patient visitors may catch sight of them being fed. At 3 months, they will begin to get their feathers and to swim.
The zoo had attempted to encourage breeding by placing two pairs of birds together in an isolated area but nothing came of that, said zoo director Randy Wisthoff. Then another pair of birds produced the two eggs.