A not-so-little baby penguin is making its delayed debut at the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium today.
The rockhopper penguin chick was born on Dec. 12 but had to be hand-raised off-exhibit until it learned to eat fish on its own.
Now, it's almost full grown and ready to join the rest of its colony.
The penguin’s egg had to be removed from the exhibit because of increased activity by the other penguins. The egg was kept in an incubator at 97 degrees for 36 days until it hatched, then the chick was slowly acclimated to lower temperatures, all the way down to 38 degrees. During that process, it was fed a blend of fish, krill and vitamins through a syringe.
Now, the penguin has progressed to eating whole fish. Although the penguin weighs 4.6 pounds, within the normal range of 4.4 to 5.5 pounds for its species, it still hasn't developed waterproof feathers, so it will have to stay in a playpen for a few weeks.
The playpen will be set up in the Antarctic Penguin display inside the Scott Aquarium.
The new chick is one of 81 penguins at the zoo, joining 27 other rockhoppers.
The zoo is holding a naming contest for the new chick. Although zookeepers haven’t determined the chick’s gender yet, the zoo will accept name submissions at the Antarctic Penguin display until March 2. A winner will be announced on March 9.