Wednesday, April 16, 2008

National Aviary Introduces Baby Penguin

There's a brand new baby penguin at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Sidney, an African penguin that was hatched at the Erie Zoo February 21st is making his debut this weekend.
He's named after Penguin hockey star, Sidney Crosby. African penguins are found on the west coast of South Africa. Sidney the penguin came to the Aviary at 3 weeks old. He's been living in quarantine and will not be moved in with the other four African penguins at the Aviary until this Friday, April 18.

Erin Estell, bird trainer at the Aviary, says Sidney is a healthy five pounds and is at his cutest now. He still has all of his baby feathers so he looks like a big, fluffy, brown cotton ball. But he is losing the down rapidly. She says in about a year and a half he will grow in all of his adult feathers giving him the tuxedo-looking appearance that penguins are known for.

Even though Sidney is referred to as a "he," Estell says they can't tell the sex of a baby penguin just by looking. She says DNA blood tests are used. But the testing won't be done until the penguin is a bit older. So there's a possibility Sidney is a female. One of the Aviary's other African penguins, Patrick, was named before a DNA test determined it was a female. But they kept the name.

Sidney makes his public debut at the National Aviary on Saturday, April 19, from 11:30 am to 1 pm, and again from 2:30 pm to 4 pm. On that day the Aviary will collect items from visitors to be used for animal enrichment, including: empty cardboard boxes, paper towel tubes, nuts in the shell, garden seeds, fun shaped pasta, and unsweetened dried fruit. More information is available at

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