Since Dec. 20, 2019, three African penguins have hatched, while three more eggs are being monitored.

OKALOOSA ISLAND — The Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park has been busy this year hatching and caring for baby penguins.


Since Dec. 20, 2019, three African penguins have hatched, while three more eggs are being monitored.


Timmy was the first of the three hatched in December, but two new penguins were born on Feb. 15 and 18.


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For the first three weeks of their lives, the penguins will live with the adults, but afterward the African seabirds will be moved indoors until they’ve grown their waterproof feathers.


After three months, Timmy, one of the penguins hatched at the Gulfarium, reached his full height and weight.


Now that Timmy has his waterproof coat, he will begin swimming classes.


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Martin said it is important to monitor the pace for the little guys, so the Gulfarium will adjust based on Timmy’s needs.


The African penguin is an endangered species, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.


To leave the endangered animal status, there needs to be a lot of successful breeding and an increase in population, said Bryan Martin, director of animal care and training at the Gulfarium.


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African penguins, known for their “tuxedo look,” live off the coast of Africa, so oil that spills can be very problematic for the seabirds.


Martin said many people assume penguins ingest the oil, but the real problem is the oil removes their waterproof coating, removing their ability to swim and find food.


“Their biggest threat is pollution and also overfishing,” Martin said.


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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.