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Aquarium Visitors Enjoy Eyeing Baby Penguin in Playpen
Zeus and Pebbles Add to the “Egg-citement” in Chattanooga


Penguin chick

Chattanooga, Tenn. (July 9th, 2009) – When a baby penguin no longer fits safely under its parents, it’s time to give the parents a little break. So penguin keepers at the Tennessee Aquarium have erected an acrylic playpen to corral the macaroni chick. “This fence helps keep the other curious penguins out while allowing visitors to see the baby,” explained senior aviculturist Amy Graves. “It has a gate so we can let the parents in and out throughout the day.”

During an examination on Friday, the chick topped the scales at 990 grams. That’s nearly two pounds - more than double its weight from the previous weight of 484 grams recorded one week earlier. “It’s a little butterball. It still sticks its little head underneath the parents thinking we can’t see its round bottom,” said Graves. “But the baby is now so large it can’t fit under either ‘Paulie’ or ‘Chaos’ anymore.”

The chick is getting stronger and Graves has observed it sitting upright next to the parents for short periods of time. Soon keepers will have to keep an eye on a waddling chick, but the new playpen should help keep the baby from venturing too far from the nest once it develops the leg power to move around. “Soon the parents will begin feeding the chick more solid food and within a few weeks it might be eating small, whole fish,” Graves said.

Yet another surprise over the holiday weekend at “Penguins’ Rock.” Gentoo penguins “Zeus” and “Pebbles” now have two eggs in their nest. “If these new eggs are viable, they would hatch in mid-August,” Graves said. “So we may be really busy between now and then.”

Here’s where the penguin tally stands as of today:

Chaos and Paulie – macaroni penguins – one chick

Bug and Big T – gentoo penguins – one chick

Biscuit and Blue – gentoo penguins – one egg

Peep and Poncho – gentoo penguins – two eggs

Pebbles and Zeus – gentoo penguins – two eggs                                                               

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The Tennessee Aquarium inspires wonder and appreciation for the natural world. Admission is $21.95 per adult and $14.95 per child, ages 3-12. Each ticket purchased helps support Aquarium conservation programs. The IMAX® 3D Theater is next door to the Aquarium. Ticket prices are $8.50 per adult and $6.00 per child. Aquarium/IMAX combo tickets are $27.95 for adults and $19.95 for children. Excursions aboard the new River Gorge Explorer depart daily into “Tennessee’s Grand Canyon.” Cruise tickets are $29.00 per adult and $21.50 per child (3-12). Advance tickets may be purchased online at www.tnaqua.org or by phone at 1-800-262-0695. The Aquarium, located on the banks of the Tennessee River in Chattanooga, is a non-profit organization. Open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas, the Aquarium and IMAX are accessible to people with disabilities.

 



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