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Meet our new penguin chick! What should we name him?

April 10, 2013

Penguin chick at 14 days/photo by Tim Wong

Update on May 3: We’ve selected the following three finalist penguin chick names submitted from the public based on originality and connection to the Academy’s mission:

  • Alto – In honor of Althea Westphal, the dedicated founder of SANCCOB, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection and conservation of threatened seabirds, like African penguins, in the wild. Submitted by Noemie H. from Berkeley.
  • Amanzi – Amanzi means “water” in Zulu, a widely spoken language in southern Africa, the African penguin’s natural coastal habitat. Submitted by Audrey A. from Petaluma.
  • Linus – In honor of Carolus Linnaeus, the taxonomist who originally described the African penguin species in 1758. Submitted by Corey M. from Fairfield.

Vote for your favorite name by May 10 – the name with the most votes will be the winner!

Join us to find out our new penguin chick’s name at a Naming Ceremony on May 16 at 10:00 am in African Hall.

Original post:
Today, biologists introduced a male penguin chick to the African penguin exhibit. Hatched on January 28, 2013, the chick is just over two months old and, until today, has been living with his parents in a private nest off of public view to give the family a chance to bond. Now that he’s on display, he needs a name! From now until April 30, submit your ideas to our Name the Penguin Chick Contest.

The Academy has a long and successful history of breeding African penguins as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan (SSP) for this endangered species, but this chick marks the first hatched at the new Academy building, which opened in late 2008. African penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild. The SSP’s aim is to maintain the genetic diversity of captive populations through controlled breeding and collaborative exchange of offspring among partner zoos and aquariums.

The chick’s parents, Robben (father) and Ty (mother), are a recommended breeding pair due to their genetically valuable gene pools. Like all new parents, the pair has kept close watch over their new arrival, taking turns caring for the bird, as biologists monitored his progress carefully. On average, it takes one year for African penguins to lose their juvenile plumage and develop their tuxedo-like appearance. So for the foreseeable future, you can recognize him in the exhibit or on the penguin cams by his grey and white coloration.

At the conclusion of the penguin naming contest, Academy staff will select the top three names based on originality and connection to the Academy’s mission to explore, explain and sustain life, including the African Penguin SSP program. The final three names will be put out to public vote, and the winning name will be announced during a naming ceremony in May.

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