As of a recent veterinary checkup, the baby Macaroni Penguin chick is now as big as its papa penguin, Merlin, and closing in on balancing the scales with its mother, Chaos.
The phrase, “they grow up so fast,” is definitely applicable to Macaroni Penguin (Eudyptes chrysolophus) chicks. When it hatched on June 9, this little bird weighed a scant 160 grams, less than the weight of two king size KitKat bars. Just over 50 days later, the chick now weighs about 3.8 kilograms, within the weight range of an adult Macaroni and an increase of 2400 percent.This is the equivalent of an average human infant (weighing 7.5-pound at birth) tipping the scales at 178 pounds less than two months later!
In recent days and weeks, the chick has begun to display more of its personality, says Senior Aviculturist Loribeth Lee.
“The chick is very laid back and seems curious and interested in new things, but doesn’t have a feisty attitude, just a ‘chill’ one. He does like people around though, and will call for me if I have him in the backup and I walk out of sight,” Lee says. “He loves to splash in a bowl of water and clean his feet and tail. We introduced snow this past week, and he loves it! He mostly stands in it but occasionally eats it, too. With all that thick down, we put ice blocks or snow in to help him stay cool.”
One of the next big developmental milestones for the chick will be when it fledges, acquiring its coat of waterproof feathers. For Macaronis, this important change occurs between 60 and 65 days after hatching, so the chick could leave the nest and strike out on its own within two weeks or so. An off-exhibit swim test will take place before this happens once the chick loses his down feathers, Lee says.