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Historic Birth at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies

Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies is celebrating the historic birth of an African black-footed baby penguin born May 4th. The baby penguin, now weighing 4 pounds, is doing well and is being monitored around the clock. “We are excited about this birth. We have been waiting years for this moment. This is a historical event at Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies,” said Ryan DeSear, general manager of Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies. “Any birth is a beautiful thing here at the aquarium, but the birth of an endangered animal is truly spectacular.” African penguins are considered “Endangered.” Major reasons include depletion of their food from overfishing and pollution. Since 1930, the African penguin population has dropped from an estimated one million to 55,000.  In Ripley’s Penguin Playhouse, burrowed nesting boxes and mud holes have been built into the rocky habitat for nest building. Mature birds lay two eggs in the nest, which is protected from the sun and most predators, and both parents incubate the eggs and feed the chicks for two to four months. African penguins breed in huge, noisy colonies and the mating pair stays together in a tight bond for their entire life.

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