A pair of male penguins that shot to stardom for being in love have reached another life milestone – their first fostered baby chick has just been born.
Called Sphen and Magic, and together known as Sphengic, the two Gentoo penguins live at the Sea Life Sydney Aquarium. As they can’t have children of their own together, they were given an egg from another penguin couple.
On Friday, October 19, the egg hatched, with Baby Sphengic emerging at just 91 grams (3.2 ounces). And the dads are already doing a great job at raising the chick.
“Baby Sphengic has already stolen our hearts!” Tish Hannan, Penguin Department Supervisor at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium, said in a statement. “We love watching the proud parents doting and taking turns caring for their baby chick.”
Hannan also noted that the first 20 days of a chick’s life are its most vulnerable, so it needs to be kept happy, healthy, and well fed. It will stay with its dads for about five to six weeks, who will feed it 10 times a day before it starts shedding its baby penguin fluff, growing adult feathers, and swimming.
Gentoo penguins usually only have enough resources to care for a single egg, with incubation taking about 36 days, so a second “back-up” chick often dies. Fortunately on this occasion, Sphen and Magic were available to take on the job as foster parents.
The pair were originally given a dummy egg, taking to the role of parents with aplomb. So they were given an egg from another couple who had had a second chick. The two took turns incubating the egg, with the staff letting them do it without assistance, as they were so impressed with how well they were doing.
Sphen and Magic captured our hearts earlier this month, declared “Sydney’s hottest couple” by the staff at Sea Life Sydney. It was noticed that the penguins spent a lot of time together, and were even starting to build a nest together. They also bowed to each other – “a Gentoo way of saying they love each other,” Hannan told ABC News.
Baby Sphengic hasn’t been named yet, and its gender won't be known for a couple of weeks. But if you want to visit the happy family and congratulate them, you can see them in the Penguin Expedition exhibit at Sea Life Sydney Aquarium.