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  • Writer's pictureCheré Dastugue Coen

Can baby animals be any cuter?

Updated: May 26

Audubon Institute in New Orleans welcomes new penguin chicks and screaming armadillo babies.


There’s a brand new bundle of joy in the penguin colony at Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans. Proud penguin parents Ritz and Saltine have hatched their first chick! This adorable little penguin is currently in the nest with its parents so visitors won't be able to view the newcomer just yet.


And guess this? Mom and Pop share duties; the parents are taking turns tending to the little one and keeping it warm. 


African penguins like this chick are among the world’s most endangered and every chick that hatches is an important part of efforts to save the penguin population. The animal care team at the Aquarium is closely monitoring the chick’s growth and will step in when it is about three weeks old to assist the parents in raising it. 


The sex of the chick won’t be known until a test of its shell is conducted by an outside laboratory. Then it will be named. 


And do visit the Aquarium now for the rest of the penguins will bring you so much joy. They are indeed delightful creatures sure to make you smile.


“I don’t think anyone can have a bad day with penguins around,” said Melissa Lee, director of public relations for the Audubon Nature Institute.


UPDATE...The Chicks are named!

Each chick was named with a nod to his or her parents. “Gouda” is the first ever offspring of Ritz and Saltine, so the crackers and cheese name was selected for him. “Calypso” is the daughter of Ocio and Hubig, and sister to Moon and Titan, who are also in the Aquarium’s colony. Staying with the Greek mythology and Saturn moons themes, the name Calypso was chosen for this youngster.

 

“Having two new chicks join our colony is an important step for this species in human care,” said Bill Robles, Curator of Birds at Audubon Aquarium. “Not only are African penguins endangered, but their numbers continue to decline. They are in danger of becoming extinct in the wild if these current trends continue.”



Gouda hatched in the nest and was cared for by his parents for several weeks before the penguin team took over his care. Calypso hatched in the Aquarium’s incubator and was hand-raised from birth. Both birds were given special swimming lessons to get them ready for life in the penguin colony and were gradually introduced to the rest of the birds.

 

Guests can spot the youngsters by their grey feathers. When penguin chicks hatch, they are covered in fluffy grey down, but as they get older, they lose the fluff and develop their grey feathers. They will stay grey for about a year before getting their traditional black and white feathers.


Hello to Screaming Hairy Armadillo Pups

Audubon Zoo is celebrating the birth of a special set of twins. The youngsters are screaming hairy armadillo pups, and their birth is the first in North America since 2018.

 

The pups were born in February and can be found in the Zoo’s Nocturnal House, along with both of their parents. The pups are named Birkenstock and Teva, following a family tradition of names related to shoes. Their father is Chaco, who came to Audubon Zoo last fall. He is separated from the pups while their mom, Dillo, handles their care until they are fully weaned and independent. Once they are older and more mature, they will move to new homes and families of their own.   



The screaming hairy armadillo babies are eating solid foods including bugs, fruits and vegetables. This species can go a long time without drinking water, they typically get all the moisture they need from plants they eat.

 

Screaming hairy armadillos are native to South America—Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay—and get their name because hair covers part of their bodies and the sound they make if they feel threatened.


In Other News...

The Aquarium has been renovated and the Audubon Insectarium moved from its home at the U.S. Custom House to the former IMAX theater at the Aquarium site. Having them both under one roof allows visitors to enjoy both without leaving the property.


Also, the Insectarium now has more space, including a massive indoor butterfly garden with 20 different species flitting and floating around guests as they stroll through the garden and enjoy breathtaking views of the Mighty Mississippi.


“It’s a beautiful addition,” Lee said.


Do stop and view the large vibrantly pink katydid who "makes a god-awful sound," Lee said with a laugh. “We have some really great insects from all over the world,” she added

 

And then there's the Bug Appetite cafe where insect-related foods are served. Care for some chocolate cricket cookies or Cinnamon Bug Crunch?



Thanks to Audubon Zoo and Aquarium for the information of this post.



Weird, Wacky & Wild South's Cheré Dastugue Coen grew up visiting the Audubon Zoo and enjoying its remarkable transformation over the years, including the addition of the Audubon Aquarium and Audubon Insectarium. She's since raised her children on the experiences.






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1 Comment


Bruce Coen
Bruce Coen
Feb 25

Great story! Love the Audubon Aquarium!

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