By Alex DeMetrick

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Every embassy needs an ambassador and at the Maryland Zoo, penguins are a natural.

As Alex Demetrick reports, two new penguin chicks are currently in training for the zoo’s embassy outreach program.

They’re just two months out of their eggs and a pair of the Maryland Zoo’s two newest penguin chicks are deliberating receiving a lot of hands on care.

They are purposely bring imprinted on people.

“They’re becoming dependent on humans and they act more like they want to be a human as opposed to a penguin,” said Jess Phillips, area manager for the Maryland Zoo.

READ: Help Name Penguins At The Baltimore Zoo

Their natural parents raised them for the first month. Now handlers do all the care and feeding. Because these penguins are going into the zoo’s embassy program and will eventually visit schools and public events.

They’ll join their louder ambassadors in a few months.

They are selected from the zoo’s main colony based in large measure on their parents’ sociability.

“They were hand picked from parents who have a suitable temperament,” said Mark Westphal a Maryland Zoo manager. “They get used to seeing a lot of folks in different settings from a very young age, so it goes into formatting them for the active life they lead as embassy birds.”

But first they have to learn penguin basics like how to swim.

Like other birds learning to fly, it takes time. The personality factor takes care of itself.

“Penguins have a very special attitude about them that grows on pretty much all of the keepers that work with them,” Steve Dombrowski, Maryland’s zookeeper.

Jess Phillips directs penguin operations and says most birds are handled as little as possible.

Meaning embassy birds would have a hard time coming back to the 60-colony penguins.

“It would be very difficult because they would not be able to deal with the other birds socially in the colony,” Phillips said.

Something they’re already shaking off for life as an embassy ambassador.

The two new penguin chicks have yet to be named.

You can vote for your favorite name here.

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Alex DeMetrick


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