In anticipation of the hatching of penguin chicks, the National Aviary installed a high-resolution infrared penguin nest cam this week.
The camera gives the public an intimate view inside the nesting cave of a pair of African penguins within its Penguin Point exhibit. The pair is Sidney and Bette, parents to two other sets of penguins hatched at the National Aviary in 2012 and 2013.
National Aviary officials said the nest has two eggs, which were laid on Nov. 9 and 11. The eggs are expected to hatch next week, between Monday and Thursday.
“We are thrilled to share this exciting time with the public,” said National Aviary Managing Director Cheryl Tracy in a written statement. “Penguins are such beloved animals, and the outstanding camera clarity provides a thrilling look into the penguins’ world. This is a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness for this critically endangered species and how we care for them at the National Aviary.”
The National Aviary’s Penguin Point exhibit is home to 17 African penguins.
African penguins are a critically endangered species, with less than 20,000 remaining in the wild.
As part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan, the National Aviary’s penguins are part of an important breeding program to ensure a healthy population of African penguins for future generations.
The camera and installation services were generously donated by M&P Security Solutions, LLC, a veteran-owned business serving the Greater Pittsburgh area.
“We were immediately intrigued by the unique nature of this project as well as the intense challenge it presented,” said Patrick Presto and Jason Martin, co-owners of M&P Security Solutions. “After understanding the budgetary constraints for the project, we decided this would be a great opportunity to give back to our community; we donated the camera and all labor to the National Aviary.”
If all goes as anticipated, National Aviary officials said the penguin chicks would remain in the nest for the first three to four weeks. They would then be moved inside to be hand-reared by National Aviary staff.
This special upbringing will ensure they are ready to fulfill their future roles as ambassadors for their species in the National Aviary’s educational and interactive programs.
The public is invited to watch the cam at www.PenguinNestCam.org, and visitors to the National Aviary can see the cave and catch a glimpse of parents Sidney and Bette.