New Baby Penguin Born at the Honolulu Zoo

It is the first chick born to a new African Penguin couple. Here is a little more about the endangered species.
Honolulu Zoo Penguin Chick Biscuit Photo City And County Of Honolulu
African penguin chick Biscuit (to the right and behind) with mom Barbara. Photo: Courtesy of City and County of Honolulu


Add a trip to the Honolulu Zoo to your Winter Break to-do list. On Nov. 15, parents Barbara and Max, African penguins, hatched a chick. Don’t wait too long to see it in the African Savanna area, because baby Biscuit is growing quickly.


“When it hatched, the staff described the chick to be the size of a biscuit,” says Honolulu Zoo director Linda Santos, “and it has quickly grown to the size of a pineapple!”


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Parents Barbara and Max are a new couple. Barbara was one of four female African penguins who came from San Diego and Minnesota in July, as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan. Barbara bonded with a male already at the Zoo, Max, and laid an egg which incubated for about 40 days before the baby hatched. We won’t know if Biscuit is a male or female for a little longer.


Honolulu Zoo Penguin Chick Biscuit 2 Photo City And County Of Honolulu

Photo: Courtesy of City and County Honolulu


Here is a little more about the endangered African penguin from the San Diego Zoo and Mystic Aquarium


  • Scientific name: Speniscus demersus
  • African penguins do not need freezing temperatures, but their dense waterproof feathers still keep them dry and warm in cold water.
  • The flecks and dots on it are unique to each penguin and are as distinctive as human fingerprints.
  • The birds have a patch of bare skin above each eye so that when it gets hot, the patches get more pink as blood flows to that area to cool off the body.
  • African penguins are one of the smallest penguin species.
  • They are monogamous.
  • Parents feed their chicks and keep them warm for 30 days. After that, the chicks are left with other chicks, huddling in “nursery groups,” for short periods of time while the parents hunt for food.
  • Juveniles gain their waterproof feathers at about three months. They leave the colony about four months after hatching.
  • Several zoos and aquariums we researched say they use blood tests to reveal the gender of chicks.
  • The penguins are also known as black-footed or jackass penguins because of their braying sounds which they use for three reasons: a bray, to attract a mate; a yell, to ward off others from his or her territory; and the haw, which is used so mates can find each other.
  • They eat small fish, swallowing them whole, including sardines and anchovies.
  • They can swim at speeds up to 15 miles per hour.
  • At the beginning of the 20th century, there were millions of African penguins around the world. Habitat loss, costal development and over-fishing has reduced the numbers to just about 42,000.