Nothing says summer like endangered penguin chicks and other baby animals at Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park
It has been more than a decade since Arizona’s only penguins successfully reared a chick. Currently, a young adult pair is raising not one but two! The aquarium at Wildlife World has been home to endangered black-footed penguins for many years; however, until recently most of the one dozen adults on display were too young and inexperienced for parenthood. All that has changed with the hatching of two chicks a few weeks ago. Like many other species of birds, penguins usually stagger the laying of (two) eggs over several days to better ensure at least one chick survives.
Thus far, both chicks, about a week apart in age and noticeably different in size, are being well cared for and fed by both parents. To monitor their progress, several times a week, aquarists weigh and examine the chicks to ensure both are growing and getting enough nutrition. Black-footed penguins are found on the south and south western coasts of Africa. They are also referred to as African or jackass penguins due to their unique call that sounds similar to a donkey bray.
“To have these inexperienced parents properly for both chicks is very exciting for our aquarium team and it bodes well for the future of penguins here in the desert,” comments Jeff Beals, aquarium curator. In the wild, if the oldest chick thrives, the younger chick often does not, given its size disadvantage at feeding time. The biggest threats to wild penguin populations are declining food supplies, predation from land animals, pollution such as from oil spills, and coastal habitat destruction affecting their nest sites.
Penguins are not the only new arrivals to Wildlife World. A baby striped hyena is on display at the baby animal nursery. Striped hyenas are quite different from the spotted hyena species already on display at the Wildlife World Safari Park. Striped hyenas are smaller and tend to live in small groups with just their mate. Their species was once widely found throughout northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia. Like other species of hyena, the striped hyena has been feared and severely hunted leaving only isolated populations across their former range.
Other baby animals include warthogs, gazelles, monkeys and many others throughout the 80-acre grounds.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is at the corner of Northern and Sarival avenues, ½ mile east of State Route 303. As an USDA licensed, private institution, accredited by the Zoological Association of America (ZAA) and the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks & Aquariums (AMMPA), Wildlife World Zoo & Aquarium receives zero taxpayer funding. No tax dollars have ever been spent to build or operate Wildlife World. A new 15-acre expansion is set to open late this year featuring several rides such as a family roller coaster, zip line, 100-foot tall swing, and several new species from north and south America such as bears, mountain lions, bison and more.
Wildlife World Zoo, Aquarium & Safari Park is located at 16501 W. Northern Ave., Litchfield Park, AZ. We’re open seven days a week, 365 days a year, including all holidays. Zoo exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last zoo admission is at 5:00 p.m.). Aquarium exhibits are open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Daytime admission includes access to the zoo and aquarium. Special reduced evening admission to Aquarium-Only is available after 5:00 p.m.