Some very egg-citing things have been happening behind the scenes at Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. The park, located on Okaloosa Island in Fort Walton Beach, has announced the hatching of not one, but two African penguin chicks!
The first chick hatched on January 25th, 2019, with the second following close behind, just three days later. They have been hand-raised behind the scenes by the Gulfarium's well-trained animal care staff and are currently shedding their fluffy down, to be replaced by juvenile waterproof feathers.
"African penguins are an endangered species. They are facing imminent extinction without human intervention," explains Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park's President, Will Merrill III. "African penguins only lay two eggs per clutch, so we are extremely happy to have two healthy chicks."
The Gulfarium anticipates that the chicks will begin to integrate with the rest of their penguin colony in just a little over a month and shortly thereafter, be ready to make their debut to the public.
Four African Penguin chicks have now hatched at the Gulfarium since 2016. "We are extremely proud of our animal care team," states Patrick Berry, Gulfarium's Director. "They work around the clock for our chicks to ensure healthy development. When they first hatch, our penguin chicks are fed every 3 hours. It's a lot of work but any effort we can do to help preserve the species is vital. These chicks are the result of a successful breeding loan with our friends at Gulf World Marine Park in Panama City."
Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has opened their new Dune Walk.
The new 551ft feature wraps around the west side of the property and provides breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico while giving guests the opportunity to learn about the importance of dunes in the coastal ecosystem.
The Dune Walk offers an exciting new perspective of multiple exhibits at the Gulfarium, including Dune Lagoon, Fort Gator and The Bayou. Not only can guests now view some of their favorite exhibits from a new angle, there is also a new box turtle exhibit to enjoy.
"We are very excited to open our new Dune Walk and highlight the importance of coastal dune lakes," says Patrick Berry, Gulfarium's Director. "These lakes are unique geographical features, found only in a handful of areas, including right here in Northwest Florida! Many endangered species, including sea turtles and beach mice, use dune lakes for nesting and shelter, making them an essential part of the environment."
The north and south entrances of the Dune Walk are wheelchair accessible so that the new area can be enjoyed by all visitors.