Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies Celebrates Birth of Baby Penguin
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is celebrating the birth of its second African Black-Footed Baby Penguin. The new baby boy penguin weighs in at 4.85 pounds and is now being monitored around the clock by the experienced Ripley Husbandry Team. The historical event of the birth of the first African Black-Footed Baby Penguin was May of 2013.
“This is our second baby penguin born at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies and is the first baby for the parents of Nick and Doza. The penguin parents are a pair that were recommended by the SSP (Species Survival Plan),” said Tara Hodge, Senior Aquarist at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies continues their efforts and support of the African Black-footed Penguin as part of the Species Survival Plan of the Association of the Zoos and Aquariums. They also support (SANCCOB) the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds, which is a non-profit seabird rehabilitation center that helps rebuild habitats in South Africa.
“This birth of an endangered animal is truly remarkable and a great event for Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. Best of all, this baby is unbelievably cute,” said Ryan DeSear, general manager of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. “It is important to come see our baby boy while he is still small.”
African penguins are considered “Endangered” which means they are facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Major reasons include depletion of their food from overfishing and pollution. Since 1930, the African Penguin population has dropped from an estimated one million to 55,000.
In 2010, Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies added African Black-Footed Penguins as a part of the $5 million Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse. The exhibit was recently named one of the Top 10 Best Places to see Penguins by 10 best places to see penguins by 10best.com, a division of USA Today Travel.
In Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse, burrowed nesting boxes and mud holes have been built into the rocky habitat for nest building. Mature birds lay two eggs in the nest, which is protected from the sun and most predators, and both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks for two to four months. African penguins breed in huge, noisy colonies and the mating pair stays together in a tight bond for their entire life.
Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is located at traffic light #5 on the Parkway in Gatlinburg, TN and is open 365 days a year. For ticket information, call 888-240-1358 or visit www.ripleysaquariumofthesmokies.com.