Follow KDKA-TV: Facebook | Twitter

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The National Aviary’s African Penguin chicks have taken another step towards joining their colony.

The penguin pair got their first swimming lesson Thursday at the Aviary’s Penguin Point. Keepers want to make sure the chicks can navigate their way around the pool and habitat before they join the other penguins.

“They just recently finished growing in their juvenile feathers, which are waterproof feathers, so that’s when we start introducing them to the deeper water,” said National Aviary Senior Aviculturist Chris Gaus.

(Photo Credit: KDKA Photojournalist Byan Orr)

The chicks not only got to get in the water, but they also practiced climbing in and out of the pool and explored the rock formations.

“Obviously, they’ve got the innate ability to swim,” said Gaus. “But the biggest thing that we watch for is to make sure that they understand where they can get in and out of the pool. That’s what we really want to make sure they are comfortable with, walking around the exhibit and getting in and out of the water.”

Watch David Highfield’s report —


The National Aviary says the plan is for the chicks to permanently join the exhibit on April 25, which is World Penguin Day. Until then, the little penguins will have the chance to explore the habitat every morning.

They will also host a gender reveal party on the day of the permanent introduction.

“It’s a pretty exciting day for us,” said Gaus. “We’ll be introducing them permanently into the exhibit, but we’re also going to be doing a gender reveal party. We don’t know if these juveniles are boys or girls. We have to do DNA testing to find that out. We’re waiting for the results from that.”

The two chicks hatched on Dec. 16 and Dec. 20 to parents Bette and Sidney.

The chicks made their public debut on Jan. 12.

African Penguins are endangered with less than 25,000 pairs remaining in the wild, says the Aviary. So, the arrival of the chicks late last year was an important moment for the species.