Detroit Zoo king penguins now foster parents to new chick

Credit: Detroit Zoo

Two King Penguin parents and the rest of the Metro Detroit community welcomed its newest arctic visitor at the Detroit Zoo earlier this summer when a chick hatched in August. 

While its foster parents reside at the Detroit Zoo, the egg that the chick hatched from was actually laid in Cincinnati at the zoo nearly 300 miles away from Royal Oak.

A 27-year-old male named Larry and an 8-year-old female named Stacy initially laid the egg earlier this year. Thanks to the collaboration between the two zoos in Royal Oak and Cincinnati, the Detroit Zoological Society was selected as the perfect home for the little tyke.

According to Jennifer Gainer, the curator of birds at the Cincinnati Zoo, officials confirmed the fertility of the egg after they submerged it in warm water.

"One of the tried-and-true ways to check fertility of an egg with a thick shell — like a king penguin egg — is to do something called ‘floating,’" she said in a release. "Simple enough, we briefly float the egg in warm water to look for ripples in the water. We were excited to confirm fertility when the little bundle of joy was bouncing around like crazy."

Credit: Detroit Zoo

After ensuring it was a healthy egg, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan recommended it be transported to the Detroit Zoo. There, it found two foster parents - a 21-year-old male and a 7-year-old female. 

While the king penguins had bonded during the July to September mating season, the Detroit Zoo said they failed to produce an egg of their own. To prepare the couple for parenthood, officials gave them a practice egg that allowed them time to practice care before the real thing showed up.

Since its hatching, the chick is being cared for closely, the zoo said.

Credit: Detroit Zoo

"They are excellent, attentive parents," Jessica Jozwiak, the bird supervisor at the Detroit Zoo said of the foster parents. "We don’t know the sex of the chick just yet, but we are all looking forward to watching it grow up. We are already picking out names we can give the chick once we know the sex."