King penguin chick hatches at Detroit Zoo after traveling 300 miles from Cincinnati


ROYAL OAK, MI – There’s a happy penguin family at the Detroit Zoo thanks to a little help from staff at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Detroit Zoo staff shared the story of the yet-to-be-named king penguin chick, which hatched at the Royal Oak facility on Aug. 13 after traveling nearly 300 miles from the Cincinnati Zoo

That’s where its parents, 27-year-old Larry and 8-year-old Stacy, initially laid the egg, but the Association of Zoos and Aquariums decided to incubate, transport and transfer the king penguin chick egg to its new foster parents at the Detroit Zoo in accordance with its species survival plan.

The foster parents, a 21-year-old male and a 7-year-old female named Gertie, blended and bonded during the July to September mating season but didn’t produce an egg of their own. Instead, to prepare the couple for parenthood, zookeepers provided the pair a “practice” egg to care for until the “real” egg from the Cincinnati Zoo arrived.

“It was a perfect situation,” said Jessica Jozwiak, bird supervisor at the Detroit Zoological Society (DZS). “We had a pair that was closely bonded but did not produce an egg this year, so we were able to give this egg to them. Everything has worked out wonderfully.”

Since the egg hatched in August, Detroit Zoo experts said the king chick is doing well and is being closely cared for by its foster parents.

“They are excellent, attentive parents,” Jozwiak said. “We don’t know the sex of the chick just yet, but we are all looking forward to watching it grow up. We are already picking out names we can give the chick once we know the sex.”

Representatives of both zoos said they are pleased their collaboration led to the hatching of a healthy and well-cared-for king penguin chick.

“This was a very time-sensitive situation that has resulted in the best-case scenario,” said Jennifer Gainer, the Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of birds. “We couldn’t have made this happen without the professionalism and extensive knowledge of both the Detroit and Cincinnati bird teams.”

“We are so grateful for relationships like these with fellow zoos because they lead to excellent outcomes like these,” added Bonnie Van Dam, curator of birds for the DZS, added. “None of this would have been possible without the creative and hard-working people at both the Cincinnati Zoo and the Detroit Zoo.”

The chick will eventually live with inside the habitat at the Polk Penguin Conservation Center with the rest of the king, macaroni, rockhopper and chinstrap penguins who call the center home.

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