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26 Oct 2018 11:43:07
Two weeks after our fabulous love birds, Sphen and Magic became a viral sensation, we are so excited to announce that the same-sex couple have welcomed their fostered baby chick into the world!
Born on Friday 19th October at 5:45pm weighing just 91 grams, the unnamed chick has also waddled into the history books as the attraction’s first sub-Antarctic penguin chick since the colony first joined the Darling Harbour family in November 2016! The baby chick will act as an ambassador for its generation at Sea Life Sydney, and will help educate the public on the precious species and the plight that they face in the wild.
After proving they were absolute naturals when incubating a dummy egg given to them by Sea Life Sydney staff, the couple, collectively known as Sphengic, were fostered a real egg from another couple who laid two* during the 2018 breeding season. The fostered egg has now hatched, and the loving foster parents are co-parenting exceptionally well to raise their young.
“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts! We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick,” says Tish Hannan, Penguin Department Supervisor at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. “With that said, the first 20 days of a penguin chick’s life are the most vulnerable so it is extra important the chick is very happy, healthy and well fed by his parents.
“We can’t wait for the world to fall in love with Baby Sphengic like they did with our amazing same-sex couple, Sphen and Magic!”
The incubation period for sub-Antarctic Gentoo Penguins lasts approximately 36 days, with the small beak of the tiny Gentoo chick “pipping” out of its egg taking up to three days. The chick will now stay with its dads for the first 5 – 6 weeks of his life where they will feed it up to 10 times a day. Once it is big enough, it will start to lose its baby penguin fluff, start growing its adult feathers and begin its swimming lessons!
Unlike the King Penguin population who incubate eggs on their feet, once laid, the expectant Gentoo parents keep their eggs warm on pebble nesting rings scattered throughout the Macquarie Island inspired exhibit. Swapping duties daily, while one of the pair is doing their best to incubate the egg, the other is patrolling the perimeters of the nest, warding off any potential pebble thieves or over-inquisitive neighbours.
Sub-Antarctic penguins face a number of threats in the wild, including loss of habitat and breeding nests due to global warming, and plastic pollution consumption which can often be passed on to their young via their unique feeding technique.
Visit Sphengic and their baby chick in the Penguin Expedition exhibit - and for a more intimate encounter why not go on the ice in our Penguin Passport experience that allows you to venture into their icy wonderland and witness the penguins waddle, hop, slip and slide along the ice right in front of you!
*As Gentoo penguins usually only have enough resources to successfully raise one of their two eggs, the "back-up" chick often dies. Fostering the biological couple’s egg to Sphen and Magic was the best outcome for all penguin couples and the future of their eggs.