Penguin chick who ‘needed a little help hatching’ makes debut at aquarium. See photos

After facing some initial challenges with its birth, a baby penguin is finally getting to explore its home at a Massachusetts aquarium, a Facebook post says.

Poa, a southern rockhopper penguin chick, made her exhibit debut in a Nov. 6 Facebook post from the New England Aquarium in Boston. The tiny baby animal “needed a little help hatching” at first, but the animal health staff helped her out of her shell June 23, the aquarium said.

Born to her parents Pebble II and Fuego II, Poa has been out socializing and “learning her way around” her habitat, according to the aquarium’s post. Her name comes from the type of grass used by southern rockhoppers to build their nests, the aquarium said.

Aside from being one of the tiniest penguins out of the 13 rockhoppers in the exhibit, Poa can be spotted sporting a yellow bracelet on her right wing, the post said.

The penguin chick’s birth was a bit of a struggle, as she couldn’t break out of her shell on her own, Eric Fox, New England Aquarium assistant curator of penguins, said in the Aug. 2 aquarium’s blog post. The staff saw a “strong pip hole” in the egg at first, which indicated the baby was in the process of hatching, according to the blog.

Staff members gave Poa some time to emerge from the egg herself, Fox said, but when her progress began to halt, they stepped in to help by peeling the shell.

“Underneath that is a sort of membrane the chick has been enclosed in, which is integrated with blood vessels. So you can’t peel that back right away because that can cause harm to the chick,” Fox said in the blog. “You must do it in slow steps, wherever the egg itself seems to be ready to be peeled back. It was a complicated process.”

Eggs typically take 24 to 48 hours to hatch, according to the blog.

After the hatching, Poa had to spend some time in the aquarium’s intensive care unit for “round-the-clock care,” Fox said.

As part of Poa’s initial care, she was fed her formula five times a day every three hours, Fox said. Her formula was “a milkshake of fish, krill and many different vitamin supplements,” Fox said, which was given to her through a tube.

In time, Poa moved past her formula stage and prepared to munch on some whole fish, according to the blog.

Rockhoppers are a vulnerable species that is in decline — the population has shrunk about 25% in the past 30 years, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Climate change is expected to contribute to a further decrease, the organization said.

To aid in replenishing the dwindling rockhopper population, the New England Aquarium participates in the Association of Zoos & Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan, the aquarium said in its blog. Poa’s birth was part of the program.

Those in the Facebook post’s comments were captivated by Poa’s cuteness, with some users in a hurry to put plans together with friends to see the baby. One Facebook user said Poa’s birth gave them “more reasons to go” visit the aquarium.

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