Detroit Zoo, Cincinnati Zoo partner to hatch king penguin chick

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Posted at 11:33 AM, Oct 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-07 11:49:59-04

ROYAL OAK, Mich. (WXYZ) — A partnership between two Midwest zoos, the Detroit Zoo and Cincinnati Zoo, leads to the hatching of a king penguin chick.

On August 13, the king penguin chick hatched at the Detroit Zoo! The collaboration began 300 miles away at the Cincinnati Zoo, where the chicks’ parents, 27-year-old Larry and 8-year-old Stacy, laid the egg.

“One of the tried-and-true ways to check fertility of an egg with a thick shell — like a king penguin egg — is to do something called ‘floating,’” said Jennifer Gainer, the Cincinnati Zoo’s curator of birds. “Simple enough, we briefly float the egg in warm water to look for ripples in the water. We were excited to confirm fertility when the little bundle of joy was bouncing around like crazy.”

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan recommended the Detroit Zoo to be the chicks new home. Both zoos worked closely together to plan the incubation, transportion and transfer of the king penguin chick egg to its new foster parents at the Detroit Zoo. In anticipation of the chicks arrival, the Detroit Zoo identified foster parents, a 21-year-old male and a 7-year-old female named Gertie. During the July to September mating season, the king penguins blended and bonded, but were unable to produce an egg of their own. As a result, zookeepers at the Detroit Zoo prepared the couple for parenthood by pairing them with a “practice” egg to care for until the “real” egg arrived from the Cincinnati Zoo.

“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.”

After hatching in August, the Detroit Zoo says the not yet named king chick is doing well and is being cared for by its foster parents.

“They are excellent, attentive parents,” Jozwiak said of the foster parents. “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.”