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New Baby Penguin Is a Big-footed Fuzzball

A newly hatched chinstrap penguin at Moody Gardens aquarium in Texas. (Image credit: Moody Gardens.)

A Texas aquarium is welcoming its newest addition: a baby chinstrap penguin chick.

The ball of gray fuzz is the first ever hatched at Moody Gardens, an aquarium and science tourism complex in Galveston, Texas. Aquarium staff won't be sure if the new arrival is a boy or a girl until after it is weaned. For now, the chick is on display with its parents, first-time mom and dad Hatcher and Carter.

Wild chinstrap penguins make their home in Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions. They're distinguishable from their emperor penguin cousins by a thin line of black feathers that wraps around their chins. Standing about two-and-a-half feet tall (76 centimeters), chinstrap penguins are also smaller than emperor penguins.

The yet-unnamed chinstrap hatched Jan. 16, making Moody Gardens one of only four U.S. zoos and aquariums to successfully hatch a baby chinstrap. The chick will remain with its parents until it learns to walk. At that point, it will be removed from the exhibit to prevent it from falling into the deep water in the enclosure. Aquarium staff will determine the penguin's sex with blood tests, teach it how to swim and then reintroduce it to its parents.

You can follow LiveScience Senior Writer Stephanie Pappas on Twitter @sipappas.

Stephanie Pappas
Stephanie Pappas is a contributing writer for Live Science. She covers the world of human and animal behavior, as well as paleontology and other science topics. Stephanie has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from the University of South Carolina and a graduate certificate in science communication from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She has ducked under a glacier in Switzerland and poked hot lava with a stick in Hawaii. Stephanie hails from East Tennessee, the global center for salamander diversity. Follow Stephanie on Google+.