Henry Vilas Zoo shows off its two new penguin chicks

(Source: Henry Vilas Zoo)
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- If you think penguins are great, wait until you see their babies! The Henry Vilas Zoo released pictures Wednesday of its two newborn African penguin chicks and they are simply adorable.

The chicks, which haven’t been named yet, were born three days apart, the first on January 14 and the second on January 17.

Unfortunately, the baby penguins won’t be on display for couple of months, the Zoo said. While their soft, downy coats may added to their cuteness, they don’t offer too much protection from Wisconsin winters. Don’t forget, their hatching season is timed to coincide with the South American summer, not ours. It’ll take about ninety days for their adult feathers to grow, the Zoo explained, at which point they’ll start learning to swim too.

Zoo Director Ronda Schwetz said their staff is ready for the challenges of raising the penguins, noting that the Zoo’s current lead keeper has raised several chicks in the past decade and has been a part of penguin conservation efforts in South Africa.

“Our animal care experts have been working with other [Association of Zoos and Aquariums] facilities to help conserve African penguin populations for decades,” she said.
“We couldn’t be more proud or fortunate to have such dedicated and talented animal care staff here at our zoo.”

African penguins are some of the most endangered species. Over-fishing, human disturbance, climate change, and oil spills have sent their numbers plummeting from the millions to just 17,000 breeding pairs in the wild today, according to Zoo numbers. The Henry Vilas Zoo is part of a Species Survival Plan that oversees the populations of several species and works to save species in the wild.

“We are proud of the long history Henry Vilas Zoo has with penguin conservation. Many thanks to our staff for taking care of these newest additions and keeping them healthy,” Dane Co. Executive Joe Parisi added.

(Source: Henry Vilas Zoo)
(Source: Henry Vilas Zoo)
(Source: Henry Vilas Zoo)