FORT WALTON BEACH — Some very "egg-citing" things have been happening behind the scenes at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. The park, located on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, has announced the hatching of not one but two African penguin chicks.
The first chick hatched on Jan. 25 with the second following close behind, just three days later. They have been hand-raised behind the scenes by the Gulfarium's well-trained animal care staff and are currently shedding their fluffy down, to be replaced by juvenile waterproof feathers.
"African penguins are an endangered species. They are facing imminent extinction without human intervention," explains Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park's President, Will Merrill III. "African penguins only lay two eggs per clutch, so we are extremely happy to have two healthy chicks."
The Gulfarium anticipates that the chicks will begin to integrate with the rest of their penguin colony in just a little over a month and shortly thereafter, be ready to make their debut to the public.
Four African Penguin chicks have now hatched at the Gulfarium since 2016.
"We are extremely proud of our animal care team," said Patrick Berry, Gulfarium's director. "They work around the clock for our chicks to ensure healthy development. When they first hatch, our penguin chicks are fed every 3 hours. It's a lot of work but any effort we can do to help preserve the species is vital. These chicks are the result of a successful breeding loan with our friends at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City."
The public is invited to follow the pair's progress on Gulfarium's Facebook and Instagram pages. All updates, including milestones and a naming contest, will be made available via Facebook.