SAN ANTONIO (KXAN) — SeaWorld San Antonio’s penguin exhibit holds approximately 250 birds, but three of them are the gawk of the theme park.
Andrea Roggenbock, a SeaWorld aviculturist, said it’s currently breeding season and the number of penguins continues to climb.
Of the 250, the exhibit features four different species ranging from Rockhopper to Gentoo and Chinstraps.
Less than a month ago, one Chinstrap penguin egg hatched under the care of two Gentoo penguins at SeaWorld San Antonio — an interesting and unique situation, Roggenbuck said. Three years ago, her team observed the two male Gentoos and then tried out a replica egg with the uncommon pair. The results were remarkable.
“They both took parenting to the next level. They did an amazing job,” she said.
“During breeding season, they will go and find a mate and if that mate proves to help build a great home and they have success, they’ll continuously go back to that mate. They’re what we call monogamous… and in this situation, it just kind of happened to be two males that were building this one home for an egg.”
The two males took turns to foster and raise the Chinstrap chick, and so far, everything is going well, Roggenbuck said.
“In fact, they did such a great job. Penguins grow at an alarming rate. When they’re babies, they’re about this tiny and you’ll come back in a few weeks and they’ll be about this big! So, that chick, they got it to where it was nice and big and healthy, and it graduated to our penguin nursery.”
Once a chick gets big enough to socially interact with other birds, Roggenbuck puts them in the nursery where they’ll interact with other chicks and grow their adult feathers.
“I’m sure parents will understand, once your kids start getting big and active, you gotta put them in a packed-in place so you can still do your chores around home.”
Then, once they’re big enough, they’ll get to roam the full exhibit.
Penguin breeding season usually starts around the end of August and lasts until late February or March, Roggenbuck said. For the birds, it’s currently springtime.
SeaWorld San Antonio has a year-round “Penguin Interaction” program where guests can gear up and go inside the exhibit and interact with the penguins. The theme park, for the first time in 10 years, is also open year-round. Tickets and passes are currently 25% off until January 24.