At approximately 7 pounds each, the two macaroni penguin chicks at the Tennessee Aquarium are growing quickly and resembling "little sumo wrestlers," according to keepers.
The two chicks, which hatched nearly two months ago, are now almost as big as their parents and beginning to grow their adult feathers.
“With any bird, the first 30 days are really critical, but as long as they continue with diligent parents and don't run into any heath issues, they develop really quickly ... Our keepers always try to let the parents do their job without much involvement," Thom Benson, communications manager for the aquarium, said. "Even if they are not the most successful parents initially, it helps them to learn to become better parents in the future.”
The penguins have also begun to develop their own distinct personalities, Benson said. One chick is quite feisty, while the other is typically very gentle.
As soon as their adult feathers finish coming in, the chicks will be allowed on supervised “walkabouts” to get used to the other penguins currently in the exhibit. However, the juveniles must be kept away from the frigid water until then.
Once the sexes of the two penguins are determined (which must be done via blood test), the aquarium will have a naming contest for guests.
In addition to the two macaroni penguin chicks, several gentoo penguins in the exhibit may also soon have their own little ones, Benson said. If the eggs hatch, they are expected to do so sometime in August.