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Pepper's Birthday Party at the Tennessee Aquarium

6/16/2010 4:43:31 PM

Gentoo penguin Bug tends her two eggs at the Tennessee Aquarium.

Above: Gentoo penguin “Bug” tends to her two eggs.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                Contact: Thom Benson 423-785-3007

Pepper Celebrates Her First Birthday at the Tennessee Aquarium
Busy Year Ahead? Penguin Keepers Watching Several Gentoo Eggs

Chattanooga, Tenn. (June 16, 2010) – Pepper, the Tennessee Aquarium’s first penguin chick, will celebrate her first birthday this Friday, June 18th. “She has grown fast and should get her yellow crest feathers this fall,” said Amy Graves, the Aquarium’s senior aviculturist. “Then she’ll look more like the other macaroni penguins.”

Right now the feisty little bird seems to be everywhere in the exhibit, a trait that keepers will monitor closely in the coming days. “We have learned from keepers at other zoos and aquariums that the one-year-old penguins can be bullies to younger chicks,” Graves said. “So if we have any gentoo babies this year, we’ll really have to keep an eye on Pepper to make sure she doesn’t cause any trouble.”

There are five gentoo eggs in the exhibit which belong to three different pairs of gentoos. Biscuit and Blue were the first to have eggs this year, and if they are fertile, one or both may hatch near the end of June. Bug and Big T also have two eggs which could hatch around the third week of July. And this week, one egg appeared in Nipper and Flower’s nest. A second egg is expected any day now. “Nipper has always been a real character, but as it turns out, he’s a terrific nest-builder,” said Loribeth Aldrich, Aquarium aviculturist. “His nest is far and away the best one that has been built inside Penguins’ Rock.”

While Paulie and Chaos were the model penguin parents last year, successfully raising Pepper, the egg they had been tending this year failed to hatch. None of the other macaroni eggs laid this year were successful. “We think the nesting season for the macs is probably over,” Graves said. “However, we could still see more activity from the gentoos. And even if we don’t, we could have our hands full if a few of the current eggs hatch.”

To celebrate Pepper’s first birthday, the first 250 Aquarium visitors on Friday will receive a Little Debbie® snack cake. Guests will also have an opportunity to learn more about Pepper and the other penguins with eggs during special keeper shows and the new Backstage Pass behind the scenes tour of Ocean Journey.
                                                                  

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