Friday, June 16, 2000

Aquarium nursery expecting babies

4 donated penguin eggs ready to hatch

By Terry Flynn
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        NEWPORT — Senior biologist Crystal Phillips has been the keeper, den mother and pal to the Oceanic Adventures Newport Aquarium's 20 penguins, and now she's about to take on the task of midwife and surrogate parent.

        The aquarium just received four donated Gentoo penguin eggs from the Wildlife Conservation Society of New York, and the eggs are currently in the final stages of incubation. Two are expected to hatch, or “pip” in penguin lingo, any day.

        The aquarium has 16 king and four Gentoo penguins on display. Two of the female kings recently laid eggs that failed to develop.

        In the incubator, “we want to copy nature as much as possible,” Ms. Phillips said. “We maintain temperature at 96.5 degrees and humidity at about 55 percent.”

        At their native home on subantarctic islands, Gentoo parents regularly turn the eggs, so Ms. Phillips is doing the same.

        The baby Gentoos will be featherless and weigh about 3 ounces at birth. They'll be fed a special formula by Ms. Phillips, who as their first “mom” will also work with the babies on their swimming. Visitors can view the nursery activities through a window.

        The babies will join the adult penguins by August.


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