“Shedd Aquarium Names First Magellanic Penguin Bred at Shedd,” by S.M. O’Connor

The John G. Shedd Aquarium announced it has named the first Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) chick bred at the facility, which hatched over Mother’s Day weekend.  During the course of a regular check-up, the veterinary team conducted a blood test and determined the chick was a female and was meeting her milestones.  Shedd staff and volunteers named her Nia (pronounced “Nee-ah”).

Guests at the Shedd Aquarium can distinguish her from the adult birds in the Polar Play Zone habitat because her feathers are not as dark as theirs.  The name is a reference to Patagonia, a region in South America at the southern end of the continent where the species is native.  Other name choices included Loma and Rossi, also derived from areas in South America within the range of the species. As other young birds reach reproductive maturity, the Shedd Aquarium expects more chicks to hatch in the future.

The Shedd Aquarium is home to two species of penguins, Magellanic and rockhopper (Eudyptes chrysocome).  The rockhopper population is much older and has been more prolific.  Diego hatched in 2015 and Ruggles hatched in 2013.  Due to the Magellanic penguin population being much younger, some of those penguins are only now reaching sexual maturity.  As they mature, it is likely more Magellanic penguins will hatch at the Shedd Aquarium.

“It’s an exciting time for the penguin colonies at the aquarium,” stated Lana Vanagasem, Manager of Penguins and Otters at the Shedd Aquarium. “While our Magellanics are maturing and beginning to pair off and breed, some of our rockhoppers are living to ages we’ve never seen before. As a caretaker, both situations present their own sets of challenges and rewarding moments.”[1]

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 1 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The Shedd Aquarium announced it has named the first Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) chick bred at the facility, Nia (pronounced “Nee-ah”).

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 2 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Nia’s name is a reference to Patagonia, a region in South America at the southern end of the continent where the species is native.

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 3 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: The Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus) is named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan (who died in 1521).[2]

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 4 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: Magellanic penguins grow to 24” to 30” tall.

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 5 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: In the wild, Magellanic penguins eat a diet that includes cuttlefish and krill.

Magellanic penguin chickFigure 6 Brenna Hernandez, © Shedd Aquarium Caption: There are breeding populations of Magellanic penguins in Argentina, on the Falkland Islands (called the Malvinas in Argentina), and in Chile.  There are non-breeding populations in Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay.  There are “vagrant” populations in Antarctica, Australia, New Zealand, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.

 

The Shedd Aquarium is located on the Museum Campus in the Chicago Park District’s Burnham Park.  The address is 1200 South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago Illinois 60605.

ENDNOTES

[1] Ms. Vanagasem referred to four rockhopper penguins having turned thirty: Drake, Magdalena, Pebbles, and Wellington.  These were the first penguins to have reached this advanced age at the Shedd.

[2] Magellan led the Spanish expedition to the East Indies between 1519 and 1522, which led the first circumnavigation of the Earth, completed under the command of Juan Sebastián Elcano (who died in 1526).  Magellan and Elcano enjoyed the patronage of King Carlos I of Castile and Aragon (1516-1556)/Emperor Karl V of the Holy Roman Empire (1519-1556), whom English-speakers know as Emperor Charles V.

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