— A literary character naming theme was picked for this nesting season —

BALTIMORE, MD – The Maryland Zoo African penguin colony is going by the books – for penguin names, that is. In November, the Zoo held a public contest to pick the 2018-2019 breeding season penguin chick naming theme. The theme of literary characters was the clear winner with 48% of the votes, followed by types of pasta and lastly, shades of colors.


The Zoo’s penguin colony is midway through breeding season for 2018-2019. To date, nine chicks have hatched. Each year, along with an ID number, each chick is named according to a specific annual theme once DNA tests reveal whether the chick is male or female. The theme will carry through until the last chick hatches in the spring.

Four chicks have been named so far, including: Gatsby, named for the main character in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby; Zorro, named after the fictional lead character in a series of books by Johnston McCulley; Coraline, named for the main character of a fantasy children’s novella, Coraline, by Neil Gaiman; and Knightley, named for a main character in Jane Austen’s novel, Emma.


The Maryland Zoo has been hatching penguin chicks for over 50 years, celebrating the arrival of Mille, chick number 1000 last spring. Past naming themes have included space (Astrid, Hubble), types of fish (Trigger, Tetra) and famous scientists (Tesla, Newton).

Names are selected by the Penguin Coast animal care team members who are busy behind the scenes caring for the new hatchlings and the entire penguin colony of 95!

To see pictures of the Zoo’s newest feathered additions, visit The Maryland Zoo Facebook page!

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