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It's a Girl, Now She Needs A Name

12/18/2009 5:22:37 PM

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                 Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007

It’s a Girl! Three Out of Four Penguin Experts Fooled By Weight
Naming Contest Begins December 26th at South Pole-ing Station
Chattanooga, Tenn. (December 18, 2009) - The Tennessee Aquarium has learned that the macaroni penguin chick, born on June 18th, is a girl. This was a bit surprising to the four Aquarium staff members who work closely with all of the birds at Penguins’ Rock. “Dr. Keller was the only one who thought it was a female,” said aviculturist Loribeth Aldrich. “Amy Graves, Kevin Calhoon and I all thought it was a male because of the bird’s weight.”
In early December, all of the penguins at the Tennessee Aquarium were given physical examinations which included routine blood work. These semi-annual exams were performed after all of the gentoo and macaroni penguins completed their molting cycle. A special DNA analysis has to be performed to actually determine whether a penguin is male or female. “Since the chick had no medical issues from the time it was born, there was no need to draw blood for the sample,” Aldrich said. “So we have had to wait until now to find out if we had a boy or a girl.”
She is a bouncing baby girl. The youngest penguin at the Aquarium is the heaviest macaroni female weighing around nine pounds. The macaroni penguins weigh between eight and 12 pounds, with the males tipping the scales on the high end of that range. As a result, Aldrich, Calhoon and Graves believed the penguin was male prior to the test results. “You could say she still has her baby fat,” Aldrich said. “She might lose some of that weight as she matures.”
Tennessee Aquarium visitors will have a chance to help name the macaroni chick. Guests will be invited to cast write-in ballots at the South Pole-ing booth which will be set up outside the Ocean Journey gift shop. Voting will begin Saturday, December 26th and conclude at the end of the Aquarium’s “Tropical Holiday Adventure” on Sunday, January 3rd. The penguin’s name will be selected from these submissions. By entering the Penguin Naming contest, voters could win a trip to Chattanooga for 2010 which includes overnight accomodations at the Sheraton Read House and a family four pack of tickets to the Tennessee Aquarium, IMAX 3D Theater, River Gorge Explorer and Creative Discovery Museum for kids.
This particular penguin is a rather feisty female according to Aldrich. She says while most penguins will occasionally bite or jab with their beaks, this macaroni has a unique trick. “She will bite and hold onto you while slapping you with her flippers. None of the other penguins do that.” So what kind of name might fit that personality? “Maybe a female boxer’s name,” said Aldrich with a smile.
                             Baby macaroni penguin appears to open a present.

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