Becky, a visitor favorite at the Gulfarium, hatched at the park in 2016 and laid her first ever clutch of eggs with mate Mooshu at the start of this year. As these are Becky's first chicks, one chick will be looked after by Ninja and Jelly, Becky's parents while Becky concentrates fully on raising her first ever chick. The chicks will be raised by the adult penguins for the first 3 weeks of their lives but will be moved off exhibit once they become more mobile until they have grown their waterproof feathers and learned how to swim.
At just three months old, Timmy, Becky's brother who hatched back in December 2019, has reached his full height and weight. Now that Timmy has his waterproof coat, he will begin swimming classes. Bryan Martin, Gulfarium's Director of Animal Management, states how important it is to monitor the pace for the penguins chicks, so the Gulfarium will adjust care based on Timmy’s needs.
The African penguin is an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. African penguins, known for their “tuxedo look,” live off the coast of Africa, where oil spills can be very problematic for the birds.
Martin said many people assume penguins ingest the oil, but the real issue is that the oil removes their waterproof coating, removing their ability to swim and find food. “Their biggest threat is pollution and also overfishing,” Martin said. The Gulfarium is one of several facilities all over the country working to increase the number of penguins through breeding programs and genetic diversity. “We have to give them a chance to come back,” he said.
A California sea lion pup has been born at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park! The little pup was welcomed into the world June 17th, marking the first sea lion birth at the Gulfarium in over 10 years. This is also the first pup for 6-year old Tabby, making the event even more special.
Colleen Cassidy, Tabby’s trainer, said she was overjoyed about her “favorite” sea lion giving birth.
“I’m a grandma,” Cassidy said jokingly. “We found out that Tabby was pregnant in January. She was behaving oddly so we tested her blood and confirmed the pregnancy with an ultrasound.”
“Due to the way their bodies are, it’s sometimes hard to tell if sea lions are pregnant,” states Bryan Martin, Gulfarium’s Director of Animal Management. “Luckily, because we spend so much time with our animals, we learn to notice the little signs and behavioral changes.”
Towards the end of her pregnancy, Tabby was monitored by Gulfarium staff 24 hours a day.
“It’s amazing to have such dedicated staff,” Martin said. “I’m just so proud of our team and all the work that they do.”
For now, Tabby and the pup are spending close time together in an exhibit that was specially built for the pair. The pup is still learning how to swim, so she currently only has access to smaller pool. However, when the time is right, both Tabby and her pup will be with the other sea lions in the larger habitats.