DENVER - Happy World Penguin Day! To celebrate, Denver Zoo is debuting its three new penguin chicks.
Two of the chicks are African penguins that hatched on Jan. 28 and Feb. 11. The third, a Humboldt penguin, hatched on Feb. 14.
The yet-to-be-named trio all slowly gained weight under the care of their parents and staff. They are now making their public debuts.
Zoo visitors can see the African penguin chicks in their outdoor habitat, if the weather permits.
The Humboldt penguin chick is still being cared for behind-the-scenes.
African penguins are found in southern Africa and enjoy warmer weather. They are most active at dawn and dusk when temperatures are more comfortable in their warm weather climate.
African penguins can grow to more than two-feet-tall and can weigh around 10 pounds. Their black and white patterns are unique to each penguin, like fingerprints on humans.
The African penguin population has been reduced by about 90 percent in the past century and currently only about 120,000 birds remain. They have also been victims of oil spills from tankers rounding the South African coastline, which have wiped out entire colonies.
"In the past, Denver Zoo has sent staff to Cape Town, South Africa to assist with a world wide effort following the 'Treasure' oil spill that affected over 40,000 penguins in 2000," the Denver Zoo said in a statement. "Staff helped rehabilitate penguins by cleaning oil off their bodies and monitoring their health through lab and blood work. Of the penguins brought in for rehabilitation more than 95 percent were saved."
The Humboldt penguin inhabits the rocky shores near cliffs or on islands off the coasts of Chile and Peru.
Although they live in a relatively warm region off the coast of South America, the ocean waters further offshore are cold.
Humboldt penguin populations have been steadily declining for the past 50 years and only about 12,000 individuals are estimated to remain.
The zoo says major threats to their survival include fishing net entanglement, illegal capture for consumption, pet trade and guano harvesting.
To learn more about world penguin day, visit: http://worldpenguinday.com/
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