Skip to main content

[Update] Initial pair of Macaroni Penguin Eggs Will Not Produce Chicks

Animal care staff say the breeding activities of the penguins, as well as the care and learning opportunities that arose from having eggs are still reasons to celebrate.

Dec. 11, 2020 - On Nov 21, the ABQ BioPark announced that macaroni penguins Minnow and Jamison produced two eggs, a great sign that they are acclimating to their new home at the ABQ BioPark. The pair arrived here in spring of 2019 for the opening of the Penguin Chill exhibit.

Staff recently discovered that the eggs the pair had are not developing, and will not result in penguin chicks. Despite the fact that we will not see baby macaroni penguins this December as we had originally hoped for, the ABQ BioPark is still incredibly excited about the accomplishments made by penguin pair Minnow and Jamison in this process, and the opportunity for the animal care staff to hone their skills to prepare and care for eggs in the future.

Jamison and Minnow proved that they have a powerful bond as parents. They are often seen in their habitat side by side, built their nest together, groom each other, and took turns trading off on egg warming duties just as they would have in the wild.

ABQ BioPark staff also gained experience caring for the eggs and practiced technical incubation techniques. These are a highly niche set of skills that take time to develop, and this opportunity to sharpen them will prove valuable in future breeding seasons.

While the penguin caregiver staff is disappointed that these first eggs did not develop, they are optimistic for the success of future eggs in the Penguin Chill. The behaviors of the penguins prove that they are thriving in their new home, and the caregivers are hopeful this experience will lead to an ever growing family of penguins at the ABQ BioPark.

[Original Story Below]

Baby Macaroni Penguins on the Way!

ABQ BioPark expecting two chicks this December from mother Minnow and father Jamison. The couple previously had a chick together at Sea World.

Nov. 21, 2020 - The ABQ BioPark's penguins have been here for a little over a year, and it seems they're getting pretty cozy. Penguin keepers discovered a penguin egg on November 2 and another on November 6.

The eggs belong to macaroni penguins Minnow (female) and Jamison (male). Macaroni penguins are monogamous, forming lifelong pairs, and the couple previously had a chick together in 2018 when they lived at Sea World.

When staff found the eggs, they pulled them and placed them in an incubator to ensure they get their best shot. Meanwhile, staff put a dummy egg - a wooden "egg" that is painted white and mimics the real one - in Minnow and Jamison's nest. "We give them the ability to take care of that egg while we take care of the real deal," says Reyna Ortiz, penguin keeper.

A Special Holiday Gift

The babies should be here just in time for the holidays! The first egg is expected to hatch between December 9 and mid-December while the second egg is expected to hatch from mid- to late-December.

While the ABQ BioPark can't predict whether both eggs will hatch, parents will only raise one of their chicks as they would in the wild. In the wild, females lay two eggs. The first egg is smaller and is abandoned by parents while the second one is cared for. But because the ABQ BioPark pulled both eggs, there is potential for two chicks.

When the chicks begin to emerge from their eggs, staff will return one of them to Minnow and Jamison's nest so that the parents can take over and raise their chick. The other may be fostered out to another set of macaroni penguins or hand raised by keepers.

The chick will remain in the nest on exhibit with Minnow and Jamison, who will feed and brood it (keep it warm). When the chick is about a month old and fully covered in down feathers, the whole family will be moved to a behind-the-scenes area to allow keepers to bond with the chick. Penguin staff will ween the chick from being fed by its parents and teach it to be hand fed by the animal care team instead.

Shortly after this, the chicks will lose their fluffy down feathers replacing them with waterproof ones, and keepers will introduce them to water in a shallow holding pool. Here, they’ll practice their swimming skills before being put onto exhibit.

A Great Sign for the Zoo's Penguins

Normally, penguins don't lay eggs for a year or two after they arrive at a new facility, so Ortiz says these eggs are a great sign that the penguins are acclimating to their life at the ABQ BioPark.

Staff are hopeful for more eggs with at least one other macaroni pair. Meanwhile, the gentoo penguins are still nest building in preparation for mating.