BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Zoo and McCormick & Company have cooked up a unique way to celebrate the Zoo’s newest African penguin chicks. Each chick to hatch during the 2019-2020 season is named after a spice, and McCormick has developed recipes using sustainable seafood to help support penguin conservation.
The Zoo has been hatching penguin chicks for more than 50 years, celebrating the arrival of Millie, chick number 1000 in 2018, and naming the chicks each year with a new theme. This year, the Penguin Coast care team selected spices as the naming theme. Since October 2019, a dozen chicks have hatched and after an online naming contest, the first chick of the season was named Sage by popular vote.
The care team has now announced the name of the second chick – Fennel. Using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch resource, McCormick developed a recipe using fennel seed and sustainably sourced Pacific cod. More chick names and associated recipes will be announced in the coming weeks.
“These birds are on the brink of extinction due to various reasons, one of which is overfishing,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “McCormick’s partnership helps us reach a new audience. The more we can educate the public about what dangers these birds face, and the small changes we can all do at home to help, the better of these birds will be in the long run. Even the smallest of changes, no matter how small you think they are, is helpful.”
Once each chick hatches, it is assigned an individual identification number, and each is named according to the theme once DNA tests reveal whether the chick is male or female. Previous themes include literary characters, famous scientists, space, types of fish, and types of trees.
Breeding season at Penguin Coast begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of February, mimicking the spring to summer breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa. Penguin chicks hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid.
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, the Penguin Coast animal care team and vets keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them every few days until they are three weeks old 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. Penguin breeding recommendations are made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).
While Sage, Fennel and the other penguin chicks are not viewable to the public, the rest of the colony, including juvenile and adult penguins, can be seen at Penguin Coast. The penguins are fed in front of the public twice daily and behind-the-scenes Penguin Coast Tours and Penguin Encounters are offered throughout the year for an additional fee.
For the McCormick sustainable seafood recipes and information on the penguin chicks, visit https://www.marylandzoo.org/news-and-updates/2020/02/sustainable-seafood-recipes-celebrate-spicy-penguin-chick-names/
To see pictures of the growing penguin chicks, please visit www.marylandzoo.org or our www.facebook.com/marylandzoo.
The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore
Founded in 1876, The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore is the third oldest zoo in the United States and is internationally known for its contributions to conservation and research. More than 1,500 animals are represented in the Zoo’s varied natural habitat exhibits in areas such as the award-winning Penguin Coast, Polar Bear Watch, the Maryland Wilderness, African Journey, and the 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.