African Penguin Chick Hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo

African Penguin Chick Hatched at Lincoln Park Zoo

The African penguin colony at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove recently grew by one! An endangered African penguin chick hatched November 26.

After a 40-day incubation period, the chick hatched November 26 as a part of the African Penguin Species Survival Plan® (SSP), a collaborative population management effort among institutions within the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).Veterinary staff deemed the chick healthy after a wellness exam. The chick’s sex has yet to be determined.

This is the fourth African penguin chick to hatch and be reared at Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove, which opened in 2016 as part of The Pride of Chicago capital campaign. The chick is the offspring of pair Sunny (female) and TJ (male). According to Hope B. McCormick Curator of Birds Sunny Nelson, the parents are doing a remarkable job caring for the chick.

“Our keepers are constantly monitoring both the parents and the chick to ensure that the parents are meeting the chick’s needs as it reaches developmental milestones,” said Nelson. “Both Sunny and TJ are performing parental duties as expected, sharing brooding and feeding responsibilities.”

The penguin chick has several milestones to surpass before it will make its way out onto exhibit with the rest of the penguin colony. African penguin chicks typically fledge—or leave the nest—70-80 days after hatching. The chick will retain its downy feathers until it molts into waterproof juvenile plumage. After one to two years, African penguins molt into their iconic tuxedo-like adult plumage.

Lincoln Park Zoo works closely with the AZA’s Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE) program, which focuses the collective expertise within AZA-accredited facilities to save endangered species. The African penguin is a SAFE priority species due to its decreasing population in the wild, which has gone from 141,000 breeding pairs in 1956 to less than 20,000 today. The African penguins at Robert and Mayari Pritzker Penguin Cove serve as ambassadors, teaching guests about the plight of this species in the wild due to human-wildlife conflict.

African penguins are also called black-footed penguins, due to the color of their feet. They have pink coloration around their eyes, black breast-band and belly markings. The only penguin species that breeds in Africa, African penguins inhabit a coastal range from South Africa to Namibia.

Welcome the new chick to Lincoln Park Zoo with an African penguin ADOPT package! Visit

About Lincoln Park Zoo

Lincoln Park Zoo inspires communities to create environments where wildlife will thrive in our urbanizing world. The zoo is a leader in local and global conservation, animal care and welfare, learning, and science. A historic Chicago landmark founded in 1868, the not-for-profit Lincoln Park Zoo is a privately-managed, member-supported organization and is free and open 365 days a year. Visit us at

Media Contacts

Jillian Braun

Lincoln Park Zoo

Anna Cieslik

Lincoln Park Zoo

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