Breeding Season Is Here Again

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we’re not talking about the holidays—it’s African penguin breeding season! This year, the penguin care team has selected Maryland as the naming theme for chicks hatched during the 2023-2024 season! Previous themes have included spices, gemstones, literary characters, and desserts.

We’ve teamed up with Route One Apparel to bring a splash of Maryland to this year’s African penguin breeding season. Stay tuned for the fun, the feathers, and the fin-tastic surprises ahead as we infuse hometown pride into the naming festivities! Vote for your favorite name below.

The Names

The following finalists were suggested by YOU on social media and helped narrow down by our friends at Route One Apparel:

  • Berger: As in Berger cookies
  • Boh: As in Natty Boh
  • Calvert: As in Calvert County
  • Chessie: As in the Chesapeake Bay
  • Domino: As in Domino Sugar
  • Edgar: As in Edgar Allan Poe
  • Hon: A term of endearment often used in Baltimore
  • Merriweather: As in the entertainment venue, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Ripken: After former Baltimore Oriole, Cal Ripken Jr.
  • Skipjack: The official state boat of Maryland
voting has now closed. thanks for participating! The chosen name was Chessie!

Route One x Maryland Zoo Collection

Check out our friends at Route One Apparel, who made special penguin merchandise in honor of this endangered African penguin chick. 15% of the proceeds from each sale are being donated to the Maryland Zoo to support African penguin care and conservation.

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Breeding Season Background

Breeding season at Penguin Coast begins in mid-September and lasts until the end of February, mimicking the spring to summer breeding season for these endangered birds in their native South Africa. Penguin chicks hatch 38-42 days after the eggs are laid. Once each chick hatches, it is assigned an individual identification number, and each is named according to the theme once DNA tests reveal whether the chick is male or female.

penguins being fed

At Penguin Coast, chicks stay with their parents for about three weeks after they hatch and are fed regurgitated fish from their parents. During this time, the Penguin Coast animal care team and vets keep a close eye on the development of the chicks, weighing and measuring them every few days until they are three weeks old to make sure that the parents are properly caring for each chick.

When a chick is three weeks old, the keepers remove it from the nest, and start to teach the chick that they are the source of food. This step is critical as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams, and both routine and emergency medical care. Penguin breeding recommendations are made by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) African Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP).

While the penguin chicks are not viewable to the public, juvenile and adult penguins can be seen at Penguin Coast.

Give For African Penguins

Over 1,000 African penguin chicks have hatched here over the past 50 years! Many of these penguins have helped establish new colonies at zoos and aquariums around the world. African penguins from the Zoo have moved to zoos and aquariums in 35 states and six countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Hungary, and South Africa.

Did you know? African penguins are endangered in the wild and some scientists believe they could become extinct in our lifetime. We are committed to finding ways to save these animals from extinction. If you’d like to help us help the penguins, please donate!