Maximum cuteness: Omaha zoo introduces 5 baby penguins -
Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014 at 12:00 am / Updated at 9:10 am
Maximum cuteness: Omaha zoo introduces 5 baby penguins

Photos: More images of the penguins' appearance


Last year it was five lion cubs. This year it's five rockhopper penguins.

They cheep like baby chickens. They're fluffy like baby ducks. But they already have the black-and-white tuxedo markings of their parents.

The rockhopper chicks are at the Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium, where they were introduced Tuesday morning.

Ordinarily only zookeepers in the Scott Aquarium would get to see the chicks this young. But zoo officials wanted the public to have a chance to see what these tiny penguins look like. So in an unusual move, they let media representatives take photos and video of the tiny penguins, said Dan Cassidy, the zoo's general curator.

Trouble seeing the video? Watch it here.

Zoo visitors won't be able to see them live because they are being hand-raised in a temperature-controlled environment.

“We chose to incubate the eggs artificially this year as we felt it would give them a better chance of survival as we had some broken eggs last year,” Cassidy said.

They will be introduced to the general penguin population in about six weeks, when they will have their sleek, water-­shedding adult feathers and be close to adult size.

Right now, the penguin chicks each weigh about three-­quarters of a pound. Rockhoppers are one of the smallest penguin species with adult weights of 5.5 to 6.5 pounds.

The chicks, which hatched between Dec. 23 and Dec. 26, are fed a milkshake of krill and fish blended with vitamins and minerals. They also get small fish fillets and will progress to eating whole fish.

Chicks need to eat 10 percent of their body weight at each of five daily feedings. Keepers have to be able to tell them apart to make sure they are all eating, Cassidy said, so each chick has a different color of non-toxic paint on one foot. When they are old enough, they will have wing bands.

The chicks will be scale-trained like the rest of the penguins in the zoo's exhibit; they step on the scale by themselves and don't have to be picked up. The scale has a glass bottom so the keepers can see the condition of the bottoms of their feet.

The sex of the five chicks can't be determined until they are about a year old. Then their DNA can be determined by testing a feather.

Omaha's zoo currently has 80 penguins in the exhibit — 23 of them rockhoppers.

“The exhibit is probably not as full as we would like it,” Cassidy said. “Some birds do better in big groups like penguins and flamingos.”

These five chicks will go to other zoos when they are old enough in order to keep the genetic mix healthy, he said.

Adult rockhoppers have crests of black and yellow feathers on their heads and bright red eyes.

For now, zoo visitors can see the chicks on a video monitor above the penguin exhibit. Updates will be posted on and on the zoo's Facebook page.

Contact the writer: Carol Bicak    |   402-444-1067

Carol writes about community news, local profiles, the arts and books. She also covers the zoo.

One father's tale of overcoming infertility
Annie, My 12-year-old grandson insists on sleeping with Grammie
Archives: So many wonderful old Omaha photos
Omaha woman, 30, battling breast cancer for third time
For World Book Night, some Omahans prepare to hand out free reads
Earth Day: A change in habits can help the planet
‘Wonder Bread Years’: Tickets on sale now for salute to baby boomer generation
Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium going greener
Annie Mailbox: My daughter will quit smoking if I lose weight
Win a Mommy Makeover!
Why two hotshots ditched six-figure salaries for a life of less
Jeff Corwin hopes to build connection with nature at Nebraska Science Festival
Annie, when that girl's hitting the bottle, look out
Blair High senior shows his love of pi by memorizing 1,381 digits
Jon Stewart might be real king of late night
'Tis soon Talk Like Shakespeare Day; hence be mirthful!
Can't find your pet? Social media is there to help
Easter Sunday temperatures climb into 80s in Omaha area
From fashion to baskets, a guide to the latest Easter trends
Families from area shelters treated to meal at Old Chicago
Mizzou alumni aim to attract veterinary students to Henry Doorly Zoo
This Friday, celebrate Arbor Day where it all began
Annie, my boyfriend of 3 years won't invite me to his mobile home
Kooser: 'American Life in Poetry' (April 20)
Swoosie’s voice a joy in memoir of stage, family
< >
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Tokyo Sushi
$5 for $10 or $10 for $20 toward All-You-Can-Eat Sushi Purchase
Buy Now
Jump to a blog:
< >
We Love Weddings blog
W.E. Love Weddings is about everything Omaha and everything weddings by the editors of Wedding Essentials Magazine.
Weddings and engagements
Share your exciting news with your community by placing an announcement today.
Inspired Home Omaha magazine
Sign up today to get the latest edition of Omaha's best magazine for local living, home entertainment, fashion and travel!
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »