BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Three new penguin chicks have arrived at the Maryland Zoo.

The chicks hatched in October and are the first new arrivals of the 2021-2022 breeding season for the flightless birds at the Penguin Coast exhibit, the zoo announced Friday.

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“What a welcome way to start our 54th year working with African penguins. We are always excited to watch the colony grow, and happy to announce that three chicks have hatched already this breeding season,” said Jen Kottyan, avian collection and conservation manager. “We expect to hatch 10 chicks during this breeding season, but of course that is all dependent on the penguins.”

Penguin chicks hatch about 40 days after eggs are laid. Traditionally, African penguins mate during the spring season in South Africa, which is taking place right now, the zoo said.

“Although it is fall here, we like to mimic the breeding season so we can monitor the chicks as they hatch and grow during our winter, and then they make their debut as juveniles when temperatures warm up in April,” Kottyan said.

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Breeding season for African penguins runs from September to February, the zoo said.

For the first three weeks after they’re born, the chicks at the zoo stay with their parents, who feed regurgitated fish to their young. Staffers will measure and weigh the newborn penguins to make sure they’re developing properly.

At the three-week mark, the juvenile penguins are removed from their parents and taught to get food on their own.

“This step is critical as it will allow staff to provide long term care for the birds including daily feeding, regular health exams and both routine and emergency medical care,” the zoo said in a news release.

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While the chicks begin life covered in dark gray downy feathers and roughly the size of a human palm, they grow to full size, about six pounds, in three months, the zoo said.

CBS Baltimore Staff