Penguins

Dallas Zoo’s FIRST EVER baby penguin melts hearts

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Penguin chick is held by a keeper during a well-baby checkup.

The penguin chick is held by a keeper during a well-baby checkup.

The cat’s out of the bag. Or more like, the penguin is out of the egg! We’ve kept this chick’s arrival quiet for 20 days — and now we’re ready to scream it from the mountaintops. This little one is the FIRST EVER penguin chick to hatch at the Dallas Zoo, making it the tenth member of the flock. Hatched April 15, the African black-footed penguin also is the first chick for proud parents Tazo and Tulip.

“This is a huge deal for our bird team and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Bird Curator Sprina Liu. “We were overjoyed when we walked in that morning and found the chick with its parents.”

The baby penguin begins to hatch April 15, 2015.

The baby penguin pokes its beak out as it begins to hatch April 15, 2015.

The baby is being cared for off-habitat by mom and dad at the Don Glendenning Penguin Cove. For about a month, Tazo and Tulip shared around-the-clock incubating duties until it hatched. Weighing a little more than a C battery at hatch, the chick has grown to about 2.5 pounds.

This hatch was an African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP) breeding recommendation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) to help ensure the survival of this endangered species. Found in South Africa, these birds have suffered a 90 percent decline in population since the early 1900s. Today, fewer than 50,000 African penguins remain in the wild.

“We’ve dedicated years of work to help save African penguins in the wild, and now we’re helping expand their populations in human care,” Liu said. “We’re very proud to be able to add this little one to the North American population.”

Penguin chick eyes DM

The little one sleeps in the hands of a keeper during its well-baby checkup.

But don’t expect to see the baby just yet — with no feathers, it won’t start swimming lessons for a few months. Until then, the chick will remain off habitat, staying close to mom and dad. For now, the parents are doing exactly what they’re supposed to — taking turns keeping the chick warm by spreading their feathers out, allowing it to snuggle up next to them (a term called brooding).

Warning: It’s likely you’ll see our bird keepers walking around with permanent smiles on their faces.

 

Categories: Africa, Conservation, Penguins, Veterinary Care, Zookeepers | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

$5 admission during Penguin Days through Feb.

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African black-footed penguin

African black-footed penguin

That’s right – through January and February the price of admission is dropping with the temps. Until Feb. 28, guests can visit the African penguins (and all the other animals) for just $5 per person. Children age 2 and younger and Dallas Zoo members are always free.

The special pricing is our way of thanking our incredible community for support throughout 2014. Even if it’s chilly, the lower admission offers a chance to enjoy the warmth of the nation’s most venomous Herpetarium, the creepy-crawlies of Bug U!, facts about great apes at the Jake L. Hamon Gorilla Conservation Research Station, and to hear the trumpeting of an elephant in the Simmons Safari Base Camp at the Giants of the Savanna.

Here’s 30 seconds of our 11 African black-footed penguins waddling, torpedoing and plunging their way through winter.

Categories: Birds, Events, Guest Services, Media, Penguins | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Special donor makes unforgettable contributions

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We’ve been part of her life — and her budget — since 1989, when Carrollton resident Linda Balkey made her first donation to the Dallas Zoo. And it didn’t stop there! Since 1995, Balkey has donated $25 every single month, and it’s a handwritten check every time.

Balkey holds African penguin, Opus.

Balkey holds African penguin, Opus. Dallas Zoo/Chelsea Stover

She proves that no matter how small, every donation counts. “The Dallas Zoo is just a part of my budget. You don’t have to do a lot. I just felt called to do more, and this $25 I just won’t notice,” she explained.

But we’ve noticed. Each month when we open Balkey’s handwritten check, we wondered, ‘who is this woman?’ We wanted to know more about her, so we invited her out for a special day at the Zoo.

When we greeted her at the front gate, it felt like we had known her for years. “The Dallas Zoo has a soft spot in my heart,” said Linda, a retired second-grade teacher. “You all are like teachers, heroes — people don’t appreciate you enough. But I appreciate you stepping up and taking care of animals when the vast majority of us can’t.”

Her day began with a behind-the-scenes tour of the giraffe barn. Giddy as she fed the giraffes crackers, Balkey acknowledged it’s been too long since she had been to the Dallas Zoo. “I was a member when my kids were young, but that stopped when they grew up and moved away,” she said. “But I’ve kept up with you guys, and I’m so proud of your changes.”

Those changes couldn’t have happened without support such as hers. We visited our African black-footed penguins next, where Balkey got to hold and feed Opus.

Balkey feeds giraffe Auggie. Dallas Zoo/Chelsea Stover

Balkey feeds giraffe Auggie. Dallas Zoo/Chelsea Stover

When we learned tigers were her favorite animal, we knew we had to take her to their off-exhibit home. Her face lit up, and when we entered, it was if the tigers knew how special she was to us. Sumatran tiger Batu showed off, lounging in his pool, rolling over on his back and chuffing loudly (tiger lingo for “talking”).

We are immensely grateful to all of our donors, especially those who stay with us through the years. But we need you, too! On Oct. 1, we’ll launch our Decision/Donate 2014 Annual Fund campaign, where you can make a donation and vote for one of our candidates for our Animal Board of Directors! Stay tuned here on the ZooHoo! blog and on our social media sites for details.

 

Categories: Conservation, Giraffe, Penguins | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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