TAMPA — Lowry Park Zoo has announced the hatching of three new African penguin chicks.
On Jan. 7 and 9, two newborn "clutch mates" were hatched to Tinkerbell and Loki. Having a "clutch mate" means that Tinkerbell laid two eggs a few days apart and both were fertile and hatched. The third chick hatched to first-time parents Tyke and Tyra.
As to whether the chicks are male or female: It's not all black and white.
It can be extremely difficult to tell the gender of a penguin chick, zoo officials said. DNA tests will be performed once the chicks are old enough.
The three new chicks will be the first additions to the aoo's penguin colony since June 2014.
The zoo is currently home for 12 African penguins and participates in the African penguin Species Survival Plan. The penguins are native to South Africa and Namibia.
"Both pairs of parents are doing a great job taking care of their chicks," said Chris Massaro, general curator at the zoo. "The addition of these chicks is a great win for the species and an exciting time for our community to learn more about these beautiful birds."
The African penguin population has declined more than 50 percent during the last 40 years. The species is endangered due to oil spills, food shortages caused by commercial fishing, egg collection and fishing nets.
Penguin chicks, man