Pair of King Penguin Chicks Hatch at Newport Aquarium

Newport Aquarium is one of only 16 institutions in the U.S. to exhibit king penguins

NEWPORT, Ky.Newport Aquarium announced Thursday two king penguin chicks hatched inside the Kroger Penguin Palooza exhibit over the weekend.

The two chicks, which are not of relation, simultaneously began to pip Friday evening before fully hatching Saturday morning. The newborns shared an April 4 egg-laying date.

Each chick weighed approximately one-half of a pound during their initial medical examinations, appearing roughly the size of a baseball.


“These were some of the biggest king penguin chicks I’ve ever seen,” said Dan Clady, senior biologist who oversees the animal care at the cold-weather penguin exhibit. “The chicks and parents are happy and healthy. We prefer the parents to raise the chicks on their own and they’ve taken those responsibilities seriously.”

Each king penguin chick has a father and a mother. The first chick’s parents are Bebe (father) and Wednesday (mother). Before it hatched, the second chick was moved to foster parents Bubba (father) and Valentine (mother), who are more seasoned parents compared to biological parents, Kroger (father) and Dumas (mother).


Guests can catch a glimpse of the chicks inside the Kroger Penguin Palooza exhibit as the parents of the chicks share rearing duties.

One of the two newborn birds is a third-generation king penguin hatched at Newport Aquarium. Its mother, the aforementioned Wednesday, was the last king penguin hatched at the aquarium in 2010, before the cold penguin exhibit was renovated and reopened as Kroger Penguin Palooza in March 2011.

Newport Aquarium is one of only 16 institutions in the United States to exhibit king penguins, the second largest species of penguin in the world with adults growing to more than three feet in height.


The simultaneous births of two unrelated king penguins is a rarity. Over the last 10 years at Association of Zoos and Aquariums institutions in the U.S., there has been an average of only 14 king penguin hatchings annually.

Newport Aquarium has exhibited king penguins since the Northern Kentucky attraction first opened to the public in May 1999, originally exhibiting king penguins acquired from Adventure World near Shirahama, Japan.

Kroger Penguin Palooza features 49 birds that form one of the most diverse collection of penguins in the country. In addition to the two chicks, there are nine adult king penguins, as well as chinstrap, gentoo, macaroni and rockhopper penguins. A sixth penguin species, the African black-footed penguin, is also on exhibit at Newport Aquarium in the Penguin House.

The public will have an opportunity to name the two king penguin chicks via the Newport Aquarium Facebook page beginning Friday.

For more information on Newport Aquarium, visit or call toll free 800-406-FISH (3474).

King penguin facts:

  • With their fluffy brown appearance, king penguin chicks look so dissimilar to adult king penguins that early explorers described them as an entirely different species, the woolly penguin.
  • King penguins are one of the few birds that do not build nests. Instead, they incubate their eggs under the belly on top of their feet.
  • King penguins can be found in the waters of the sub-Antarctic. They breed on many of the sub-Antarctic islands, such as South Georgia, Crozet, the Falklands, and the islands southeast of Australia and southwest of New Zealand.


Newport Aquarium, the No. 1 aquarium in the country according to USA Today’s, has showcased thousands of animals from around the world in a million gallons of water since 1999. Named a top U.S. aquarium by US City Traveler in 2014 and by Travel Channel in 2013, Newport Aquarium is a Herschend Family Entertainment company and an accredited member of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Newport Aquarium is open to the public 365 days a year and is located across the Ohio River from downtown Cincinnati at Newport on the Levee.

Find us on: | Twitter: @NewportAquarium

One Aquarium Way | Newport, KY 41071 | 859-261-7444

Harlem Globetrotters Add Two Penguins to Roster for Dec. 27th Games in Cincinnati


CINCINNATI – Speckles and Paula – two female African penguins from Newport Aquarium – will serve as guest Harlem Globetrotters on Friday (Dec.27) during the legendary basketball franchise’s two games at US Bank Arena (2 p.m. and 7 p.m.).

During the first quarter of each game on Friday, Speckles and Paula will visit with their new Globetrotters teammates down on the court and will be presented with custom-made Globetrotters jerseys. The two penguins were selected among Newport Aquarium’s eight African black-footed penguins that went through a Dec. 6 basketball try out with Globetrotters stars Wun “The Shot” Versher and 7-foot-4 Stretch Middleton, the third tallest player in Globetrotters history.


Harlem Globetrotters Wun “The Shot” Versher (left) and Stretch Middleton (right) with Newport Aquarium Animal Ambassador Ric Urban and Speckles from The Penguin House on Dec. 6, 2013.

Newport Aquarium’s African penguins have delighted tens of thousands of people over the years; from entertaining guests at the daily Penguin Parade, to hosting folks inside their backstage home The Penguin House for Penguin Encounters, where a portion of the sales are donated to penguin conservation programs.

Last year, the Globetrotters did something unparalleled in the history of sports and entertainment – allow fans to vote on new rules to be used in actual games. It was so much fun, they are doing it again, and there are cool new rules to choose from during their 2014 “Fans Rule” World Tour. The rules can be voted upon at

Tickets for each game are available through and the US Bank Arena box office.

For more information on Newport Aquarium and its African penguins, visit


Day 4, and counting

These two fledgling penguins came very close to us this morning when we were doing census on the south beaches. Usually the penguins don’t get too close at all, but these young guys were brave.

(Editor’s note: Until the guano harvest workers arrive in the next few days, the volunteer scientists at the Punta San Juan Reserve are focusing on updating the census of seabirds, seals and other aquatic animals on the ground. Measuring the populations is the most basic way to know whether conservation efforts are working.)

Well… I (this is Alle) won the prize for being the first person to get sick here on the reserve. Apparently, Susana (the lady who arranged the entire guano harvest) said that everyone will take turns getting sick while they are here, and I was the unlucky first person to get the bug.

I did make it out this morning for the 6 a.m. counts of the south shores, and it turns out that the penguins are actually out in the open a lot more first thing in the morning, and the numbers were a lot higher. Mike Macek, curator of birds at the St. Louis Zoo has been here many times for penguin conservation efforts, and he says that there seem to be a lot more penguins this year than in past years, which is great news! That means the conservation efforts here are succeeding.

Flocks of birds are silhouetted against the sunset.

So a lot of our coworkers at the Newport Aquarium, and at the WAVE Foundation were feeling like Ric and I were going  on vacation while we are here in Peru.  It is true that we are away from the office, but we would like to let you know about some of our day-to-day activities.

We wake up around 5:30 a.m. in complete darkness and with only our headlamps to light the way. We pile on the layers for the cold mornings of the Peruvian desert. Breakfast is not served until after we get back from our first 2-3 hours in the field. Peruvians only really eat one meal a day, and that meal is lunch. Breakfast is usually bread and butter, and dinner often doesn’t exist or consists of bread and butter or crackers or fruit. (Ric is actually in the process of writing a food segment for the blog, and we will be able to share some of the food that we are experiencing.)

After “breakfast” we usually have a small break, and we meet back up to head out into the field again for a few more hours. This is usually the weird time in the field because when we first go out it is really cold,  then the sun comes out and we all burn. The white guano on the ground reflects the sun, so any part of exposed skin will burn before lunch (and if the sun doesn’t get you, the wind burn will!). Plus, once it warms up, the ticks come out and start secretly climbing all over us. We have to have separate clothes that we wear in the field, and clothes that we wear in the house so we don’t bring ticks into our living area.

Here is the whole volunteer crew, with a map showing the outline of the reserve. We are wearing our new “2012 PSJ Guano Harvest” hats provided by the St. Louis Zoo and the Center for Resource Sustainability in Peru. Note Conham the dog in front of Alle.

After round 2 in the field, we head back to the house for lunch at 1:30 p.m.  when there is an absolutely delicious meal prepared for us. We all sit around talking, laughing and sharing stories in the warm sun. Then, around 3:30 p.m. it starts getting really cold again, almost colder than it was in the morning, and we head back out again into the guano fields for a few more hours to do more census work on the penguins.

The sun goes down around 5:30 p.m., and the wind from the ocean just freezes us to the bone. When we finally get back to the house, the generators get turned on (yay, electricity! This is the only time we get electricity during the day), and we have a meeting about what we observed throughout the day and the numbers of the animals we counted. After this meeting, half of the group gathers their shower materials and is allowed to have a ride to the “G house” which is where the warm shower and internet is. This is where Ric and I write every night, and where I am right now.

Then, we head back to the reserve and sit around the main table lit by candlelight, and we have a small snack while we talk and catch up about the day. Overall, these are field-intensive days; we come back covered in guano and shaking ticks off of us while we walk.

Collecting seawater to use to flush the toilets.

Something that is an added activity that we need to do every few days is the bucket brigade to the ocean so we can gather water to flush our toilets. We are not allowed to actually press the handle on the toilet, but instead we pour a bucket of water into the toilet to “flush” it. So we keep a large garbage can filled with ocean water in each bathroom on the reserve, and when the water supply gets low we have to form a huge line down to the ocean, and pass buckets back and forth until the cans are filled. This takes only about 15-30 minutes with the amount of people that we have with us, plus it gives a great work-out for our arms! Today, Ric and a girl named Heather Neldner (from the Milwaukee Zoo) almost got washed out to sea today when a wave came crashing in while they were collecting water. Luckily, they only got a bit wet, and their shoes will dry.


Here’s Cameron with a get-well poster from all his friends at Newport Aquarium and WAVE. How about that smile, huh? He’s famous for it, and we can’t wait to see it again in person.

Before we sign off for today, Ric and I both want to give a special shout out to Cameron Smith. Cameron is a volunteer at the Newport Aquarium who is fighting a battle with cancer. We know he loves the penguins, so we are sending him a big hello from Peru. The Humboldt penguins and all the people here with us at the reserve say “Hello/Hola, and get better soon!” We look forward to seeing you when we get back.