Pierre has had a long and exciting life. He first hatched out at The Maryland Zoo in Baltimore on February 16, 1983. He was donated to Steinhart Aquarium in June of that same year and has been with us ever since. Staying put doesn’t mean that Pierre hasn’t had some adventures throughout his years here. He has lived in three different exhibits in three different buildings during his years at the Academy—the original Steinhart Aquarium building, our temporary Howard Street location, and African Hall in the new Academy—and has had numerous biologists and veterinarians tend to his everyday needs.
As part of the Species Survival Plan we have tracked the number of offspring Pierre has had and which zoos and aquariums most of them have gone off to. In his 30 years, Pierre has had several mates with whom he has produced 16 chicks. His lineage is now represented worldwide, with some of his chicks living as far away as Ohio, Idaho, and even Japan! These offspring have gone on to produce approximately 26 grand chicks and 4 great grand chicks! He is not currently recommended to breed since he is genetically very well represented.
Living to such an old age for an African Penguin means that Pierre has had some health obstacles that penguins in the wild, which have shorter life spans, would not have. He was the first penguin to wear a wetsuit to help him get through a difficult molt, a story immortalized in the children’s book Pierre the Penguin, written by Jean Marzollo and illustrated by Laura Regan. He even has his own Wikipedia page. Pierre has had allergies almost all of his life and gets allergy medication daily to keep him from excessive coughing. Every day, a biologist hides his allergy medication inside a fish, which he gets during one of our daily penguin feedings. Like humans, penguins can develop cataracts with age. Pierre had surgery on both of his eyes to remove cataracts and help improve his vision.
Pierre is doing very well overall and we are excited to see what future adventures he has in store for us. Pierre is banded on the right wing with a solid blue band, so keep an eye out for him when you come to visit or are watching on our web cam!