Mexican zoo welcomes baby penguins

Adelie penguins (Pygoscelis adeliae) at an Antarctic environment recreated at the Guadalajara Zoo, in Jalisco State, Mexico on February 6, 2019. – The first birth of this species in Latin America took place a month ago in the zoo. (Photo by Ulises Ruiz / AFP)

GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AFP) — After painstakingly recreating an Antarctic environment in the balmy climate of central Mexico, the Guadalajara Zoo has welcomed two baby Adelie penguins into the world.

The pair, born in late December, made their public debut this week as their parents, Blanquita and Pippin, began allowing them to venture out from between their feet for the first time.

The babies will be named after undergoing medical exams in another eight to 10 weeks to determine their sex, said zoo officials in Guadalajara, Mexico’s second city.

The Guadalajara Zoo is the first in Latin America to get Adelie penguins to reproduce, said its chief penguin veterinarian, Luis Soto.

The species, Pygoscelis adeliae, is the chubbiest of all penguins, and is found in the wild only in Antarctica.

To get Blanquita and Pippin to reproduce, the zoo had to make a mini-Antarctic in their enclosure, with below-freezing temperature, real snow, saltwater tanks for them to swim in and special lighting to imitate the southern sun.

The first baby penguin, born on December 24, weighed three kilograms (six pounds 10 ounces) at birth. The second, born two days later, weighed 1.96 kilograms.

Their parents arrived in Guadalajara in 2015, from another zoo in Japan.

Adelie penguins grow to a height of up to 80 centimeters (two feet seven-and-a-half inches) and are known for the white rings around their eyes.

© Agence France-Presse