TAMPA (FOX 13) - Three newborn African penguins arrived at Lowry Park Zoo, and the public is now getting a first look at the young chicks.
The zoo’s “clutch mate” chicks hatched on January 7 and January 9 weighing in at 54 grams and 48 grams respectfully. Clutch mate means the female penguin laid two eggs a few days apart. The third chick hatched on January 12, weighing in at 53 grams to different penguin parents.
Zoo officials say it’s difficult to tell a penguin chick’s gender, but a DNA blood test will be used when they are old enough to determine the gender.
African penguins are endangered species and, currently, 12 penguins call Lowry Park Zoo their home. Zoo officials say they participate in the African penguin Species Survival Plan.
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.