Fluffy penguin chicks welcomed at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

- Fall has brought four fluffy African penguin chicks to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

The baby chicks were recently born at the theme park, ranging from two to four weeks old. Busch Gardens' officials said it is the largest group of penguin chicks that has ever hatched at the park.

Officials explain that at this stage of their development, the chicks are expected to eat 60 percent of their body weight each day to ensure proper growth. They are currently under 24-hour supervision by the animal care team.

Guests can see the family on Saturday, October 13 as part of Busch Gardens’ African Penguin Awareness Day celebration. They will appear between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at the Animal Care Center.

African penguins are endangered species. There was an estimated one million breeding pairs in the 1920s along the Namibia and South African coastline, according to the South African National Biodiversity Institute. It is estimated that the breeding population in South Africa declined by 95 percent in six years from 69,000 pairs in 2001 to 20,000 pairs in 2011. It is projected the African penguin could become extinct within the next 15 years.

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