The "awwww" factor is off the charts in this story and we have the pictures to prove it.
The Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse is celebrating the arrival of new Humboldt penguin chicks that arrived earlier than normal. "I am pleased to announce that five penguin chicks have hatched at the zoo this year," said Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney. "It's always exciting when baby chicks are born, and so many in one year is great. We are fortunate to have such a thriving penguin program and the credit goes to our talented zoo staff."
Two chicks were introduced Thursday morning including the first chick of the year, which hatched on January 9 to parents Wylie and Mara as well as the most recent hatchling, which arrived on January 17 to parents Frederico and Poquita. Three other chicks also hatched on January 13 to Mario and Montana, January 14 to Jake and Bianca and January 15 to Phil and Carmen. Over a seven year span, a total of 34 chicks have hatched.
"It appears our mild winter weather started the breeding season a bit earlier than usual. It's very exciting to be talking about penguin chicks so early in the year; perhaps it means spring will be arriving soon," said Ted Fox, zoo director. "It's wonderful that our zoo continues to play an important role in conserving this species. Like the chicks before them, many of this year's babies will eventually end up at other zoos around the country to continue populating the species."
Humboldt penguins are endangered with only 12,000 to 13,000 remaining in the wild. They are named after the Humboldt Current a cold nutrient-rich ocean current that flows along the west coast of South America.
Mahoney was given the chance to name the youngest chick and she chose the name Cocotea.
You have the chance to name one of the chicks too. Click here to read details on the naming contest.
Send your suggestions to: firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 p.m. on February 2. Make sure to include your name, age, address, phone number, e-mail address name suggestion and the reason for your choice. The contest is open to those 5 and older. Given the native habitat of Humboldt penguins, names of Spanish origin are preferred and strongly encouraged.
The top five names will be posted on the zoo's website from February 9 through 16. The winning name will be announced at the zoo on February 17.
The chick will remain under the care of its parents until mid-April before it is weaned. It will join the rest of the colony in early summer.
Do you have any ideas for the penguin's name? Let us know by leaving a comment below.