Two New Penguin Hatchlings at Cal Academy Prep for Fish School

Two penguin hatchlings will be starting “fish school” soon in preparation for joining the African penguin exhibit at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco, museum officials said Tuesday.

The two African penguin chicks hatched days apart at the Golden Gate Park museum, on Nov. 1 and Nov. 4, and are nesting behind the scenes with their parents before they start school.

The museum’s penguins are trained to become proficient swimmers and to eat from a biologist’s hand so they’re ready to join the exhibit’s colony.

The chicks are the second and third from a penguin couple residing at the museum named Robben and Ty. They’re still fluffy and gray but will lose their young plumage and take on a more sophisticated tuxedo look like their parents in about a year.

The new chicks are expected to join the colony in late January and the museum will hold a naming contest then.

The African penguins have been classified as an endangered species since 2010. The science academy has had a program for years to breed the penguins and hatched its first African penguin at its Golden Gate Park location in January 2013.

The museum’s efforts even extend to Africa itself. Later this month, two museum officials, assistant curator Vikki McCloskey and biologist Crystal Crimbchin, will travel to South Africa to help rescue seabirds, particularly African penguins, museum officials said.

“We’re thrilled to welcome these two new chicks into our African penguin colony,” museum aquarium director Bart Shepherd said.

“By engaging the public about why sustaining these and other threatened species is so critical, we hope to inspire people around the world to join us by supporting conservation efforts locally and internationally,” Shepherd said.

Scott Morris, Bay City News

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