|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS1/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS2/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS3/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS4/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS5/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
|Julie Larsen Maher © WCS6/6 |Julie Larsen Maher © WCS
This baby is making history at the Bronx Zoo.
For the first time in its 120 year-plus existence, a little penguin has successfully bred at the zoo.
Zoo officials announced the chick’s debut on Wednesday after the baby hatched on May 10.
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The colony oflittle penguinsonly debuted in 2015 at the Wildlife Conservation Society-run facility. The tiny creatures who are characterized by their blue hueare alsoknown as blue penguins, little blue penguins or fairy penguins. Adults grow to be only about 13 inches tall, weigh 2 to 3 pounds, and are the smallest of the 18 penguin species.
Little penguins are native to coastal southern Australia and New Zealand, where they inhabit temperate marine waters and feed on fish, cephalopods and crustaceans. They also nest colonially in burrows on sand dunes or rocky beach areas.
They lay their eggs in burrows dug in sand, natural cavities, under thick vegetation or even man-made structures, according to wildlife officials. Both parents care for and incubates the egg. Chicks weigh just 25 grams as hatchlings. After about 50 days they lose their downy plumage, which is then replaced with waterproof feathers.
All of the birds in the Bronx Zoo colony, with the exception of the new chick, were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx Zoo as part of a breeding program.
In the wild, little penguin populations are threatened by climate change and human activities. About 15 penguins a year hatch at the Taronga Zoo, making it the most successful little penguin breeding program in the world.