New Penguin Chicks. (Photo – Screenshot from Maryland Zoo/YouTube video)BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is happy to announce the hatching of two African penguin chicks – the first to be hatched at the Zoo’s new Penguin Coast exhibit! “We hoped that moving the penguin colony in the beginning of breeding season would not impact egg laying this year, so we are delighted to welcome these first two chicks,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “These chicks are not only the first to hatch this season; they are also being raised as part of our Animal Ambassador program. That means they will be traveling far and wide in the Zoomobile on education outreach programs.”The female chicks hatched on October 4 and October 9, and now they need names! “The chicks are very healthy and are thriving under the care of the Animal Embassy staff,” continued Kottyan. “They now have their juvenile feathers, and they are very vocal chicks. We are looking for names to compliment the penguins already in the program – Tails, Winnie and Lilly.”The names, selected by a variety of Zoo staff are:–Shelly and Sandy – for the variety of beaches where they live in South AfricaNellie and Mandie – for Nelson MandelaDaisy and Rose – flower names to compliment current penguin LillyDawn and Hope – Dawn for the dishwashing detergent that is used to clean wild penguins caught in oil spills and Hope for the Cape of Good Hope, home to the Boulders Penguin Colony.The Maryland Zoo has been a leader in breeding African penguins for over 40 years, winning the prestigious Edward H. Bean Award for the “African Penguin Long-term Propagation Program” from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in 1996. The Zoo has one of the largest colonies of the birds in North America, with over 60 birds currently residing in the new Penguin Coast exhibit. “Our penguins are bred according to recommendations from the AZA African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) which helps maintain their genetic diversity,” said Kottyan. “Many of the African penguins previously bred at the Zoo now inhabit zoo and aquarium exhibits around the world.”Penguin chicks take 38-42 days to hatch out of their eggs after they are laid. Zoo keepers monitor development of the eggs by candling them about a week after they are laid to see if they are fertile and developing. The eggs are then placed back with the parents. “Both the male and the female take turns sitting on the eggs,” said Kottyan. “Once the eggs hatch, parents take turns caring for their offspring; they each protect, feed, and keep the chick warm for 2-3 days and then switch off.”At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, zoo keepers and vets keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them daily for the first week to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick. When a chick is three-weeks-old, the keepers remove it from the nest, and start to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care. “For these chicks, hand rearing is especially important as they will be an important part of our education program and will need to get used to any number of different situations,” continued Kottyan. “We’d like to make sure they have family friendly names so they can take their place with our other penguin Animal Ambassadors like Tails, Winnie and Lilly.”Visit the Maryland Zoo website at http://www.marylandzoo.org/Penguinnames for video, photos and the chance to vote on your favorite names! Voting is open from Friday, December 5th thru Saturday, December 20th. You can vote once per day, so visit often to make sure your voice is heard. The winning names will be announced on December 21st.About The Maryland Zoo in BaltimoreFounded in 1876, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is the third oldest zoo in the United States and is internationally known for its contributions in conservation and research. More than 1,500 animals are represented in the Zoo’s varied natural habitat exhibits in areas such as Polar Bear Watch, the Maryland Wilderness, African Journey and the award-winning Children’s Zoo. Situated in Druid Hill Park near downtown Baltimore, the Zoo is accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums. For more information, visit www.marylandzoo.org.