Jan. 5, 2016

Saint Louis Zoo 314/781-0900
Susan Gallagher, 314/646-4633;
Christy Childs, 314/646-4639;
Joanna Hoeltge, 314/646-4703;

A new year has hatched at the Saint Louis Zoo!

First babies for 2016 are Edwards's pheasants and a king penguin chick

Three critically endangered Edwards's pheasants, also known as Vietnamese pheasants, hatched on New Year's Day, Jan. 4 and Jan. 5 2016 at the Saint Louis Zoo's Bird House. Since these are the first offspring for the inexperienced parents, the chicks are being hand-raised behind the scenes in a private area of the Bird House. These hatchings aren't only the first of the new year, but the first for this species at the Saint Louis Zoo. Native to the rain forests of central Vietnam, remaining populations are extremely small and declining due to habitat loss and hunting. They may even be already extinct in the wild. There has been no record of the bird since 2000. The small chicks weigh about .75 ounces each and have golden brown plumage. Adults are about half the size of wild turkeys, with the male having distinctive all-black plumage with a blue gloss and metallic fringes, white crest and red skin around the eyes. The females are generally chestnut-brown with no crest.

A king penguin chick weighing just 9 ounces hatched at Penguin & Puffin Coast on Jan. 2. The chick is being reared by its parents Nathan and BB in the public habitat, but may not be visible to visitors for a few weeks. Another king penguin chick, which hatched on Nov. 30, is starting to make appearances now that it's almost too large to fit under its parents. A king penguin chick hatches after about 55 days; then its parents continue to keep it warm under their belly flap for 30-40 days until it grows too large to cover. They continue to share feeding duties for about eight months. It is not yet known if the chick is a male or female. This handsome bird is one of the largest penguin species. As an adult, it weighs about 33 pounds, second only to the emperor penguin.