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Julie Larsen Maher
Julie Larsen Maher

Fairy Penguins Take the Bronx Zoo by Storm

Julie Larsen Maher
Julie Larsen Maher

Fairy penguins, also known as little penguins, are the smallest birds in the penguin family. They only grow to be about 13 inches tall and weigh two to three pounds. If you're a New Yorker—or planning a visit—and have a strong desire to see these impossibly small birds in real life (as I do), you're in luck. Fairy penguins will now be on exhibit at the Bronx Zoo, making it one of only four facilities in the United States to house them. The cute little guys were hatched at the Taronga Zoo in Sydney, Australia and brought to the Bronx as part of a breeding program.

“International partnerships and breeding programs like that of the little penguin are vital to ensuring the survival of the species in the wild through education, awareness, and connecting people to nature in a way that can only be accomplished through close, in-person encounters,” explains Jim Breheny, WCS Executive Vice President and General Director of the WCS Zoos and Aquarium. So far, Breheny notes, the fairy penguins “are acclimating well to their new home and are quite a sight to see.” 

In the wild, you can find little penguins feasting on fish, cephalopods, and crustaceans off the coast of New Zealand and Australia. They fall into the "least concern" category on the UCN Red List, but they're still threatened by humans and climate change. The Bronx Zoo also supports Taronga Zoo's conservation programs in Sydney Harbor, which include monitoring, awareness campaigns, rescue and rehabilitation, and breeding programs.

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Courtesy of The National Aviary
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Animals
Watch This Live Stream to See Two Rare Penguin Chicks Hatch From Their Eggs
Courtesy of The National Aviary
Courtesy of The National Aviary

Bringing an African penguin chick into the world is an involved process, with both penguin parents taking turns incubating the egg. Now, over a month since they were laid, two penguin eggs at the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania are ready to hatch. As Gizmodo reports, the baby birds will make their grand debut live for the world to see on the zoo's website.

The live stream follows couple Sidney and Bette in their nest, waiting for their young to emerge. The first egg was laid November 7 and is expected to hatch between December 14 and 18. The second, laid November 11, should hatch between December 18 and 22.

"We are thrilled to give the public this inside view of the arrival of these rare chicks," National Aviary executive director Cheryl Tracy said in a statement. "This is an important opportunity to raise awareness of a critically endangered species that is in rapid decline in the wild, and to learn about the work that the National Aviary is doing to care for and propagate African penguins."

African penguins are endangered, with less than 25,000 pairs left in the wild today. The National Aviary, the only independent indoor nonprofit aviary in the U.S., works to conserve threatened populations and raise awareness of them with bird breeding programs and educational campaigns.

After Sidney and Bette's new chicks are born, they will care for them in the nest for their first three weeks of life. The two penguins are parenting pros at this point: The monogamous couple has already hatched and raised three sets of chicks together.

[h/t Gizmodo]

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holidays
Bleat Along to Classic Holiday Tunes With This Goat Christmas Album
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iStock

Feeling a little Grinchy this month? The Sweden branch of ActionAid, an international charity dedicated to fighting global poverty, wants to goat—errr ... goad—you into the Christmas spirit with their animal-focused holiday album: All I Want for Christmas is a Goat.

Fittingly, it features the shriek-filled vocal stylings of a group of festive farm animals bleating out classics like “Jingle Bells,” “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,” and “O Come All Ye Faithful.” The recording may sound like a silly novelty release, but there's a serious cause behind it: It’s intended to remind listeners how the animals benefit impoverished communities. Goats can live in arid nations that are too dry for farming, and they provide their owners with milk and wool. In fact, the only thing they can't seem to do is, well, sing. 

You can purchase All I Want for Christmas is a Goat on iTunes and Spotify, or listen to a few songs from its eight-track selection below.

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