SeaWorld San Diego on Tuesday reported the first emperor penguin chick hatched since 2010, a rare event at the only institution in the Western Hemisphere where the endangered species are found.
Emperor penguins are threatened in their native habit due to the loss of Antarctic sea ice and rising sea levels caused by climate change.
“Bringing this chick into the world and ensuring her well-being and survival around the clock has been a very rewarding process for me and the entire SeaWorld aviculture team,” said Justin Brackett, curator of birds at SeaWorld San Diego.
“Every decision regarding her well-being was made with the upmost care and consideration by our expert team and veterinary staff,” Brackett said. “We are looking forward to learning more about her and watching her unique personality develop as she continues to grow.”
The chick was hatched on Sept. 12 at the Penguin Encounter, which is home to a colony of 17 emperor penguins, as well as 300 other penguins
Record low Antarctic sea ice coverage is reducing Emperor penguin populations in their native habitat, with colonies experiencing breeding failure. Emperor penguins are dependent on sea ice for breeding, raising chicks, and molting. Newly hatched chicks lack waterproof feathers required to swim or survive in the ocean.
“The good news is that there is a future for this species if we take action to fight climate change and support organizations like SeaWorld that provide human care and maintain genetic biodiversity for Emperor penguins in their facilities,” said Katie Propp, chief operations officer at Penguins International.