Fort Worth Zoo celebrates first-ever hatching of rockhopper penguin: “major conservation success”

It’s always an exciting day at a zoo when a new baby animal is born, especially when it’s the first-ever birth of a species.

Now, the Fort Worth Zoo is celebrating the historic hatching of their first rockhopper penguin — a “major conservation success” for a vulnerable penguin species.

In a press release today, the Fort Worth Zoo, in Texas, announced that the rockhopper penguin, which they’ve named Darcy, was successfully hatched on December 21, to parents Fredrick and Dot.

Darcy. Courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo.

It’s the first rockhopper penguin to be born at the Fort Worth Zoo, whose history dates back to 1909. It’s also a rare achievement, as only 36 rockhopper penguins have been born across all accredited zoos in the last three years.

The rockhopper penguin is a vulnerable species, with a declining wildlife population, and the zoo says the newborn’s hatching marks a “major conservation success.”

Darcy is currently 11 inches tall, and will be considered fully grown at 3 months old. Rockhopper penguins are famous for the distinct yellow and black feathers on their head, but it will take time before they appear: the zoo says Darcy will develop a stripe by year one, and it will take about four years for the feathers to fully appear.

Darcy with her dad Fredrick. Courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo.

Fredrick and Dot are reportedly doing a great job with parenting duties; the Fort Worth Zoo described them as “attentive and focused on caring for the hatchling.”

“They sat over the chick in her early stages of development, feeding and caring for Darcy, and focused on keeping her safe,” they wrote.

But mom and dad aren’t alone: the whole colony of penguins pitches in to help, guarding the chick and even helping to preen her feathers. It takes a village!

Darcy being doted on by the colony. Courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo.

Ahead of this milestone birth, the Fort Worth Zoo has been busy making improvements to the penguin habitat, including improved UV lighting systems and “light-timed cycles to mimic sunrise and sunset in their indoor habitat.”

Newborn Darcy is currently available for viewing in the zoo’s Penguins habitat. “Be sure to stop by and pay her a visit soon – this little one is growing fast!” the zoo wrote.

Darcy with mom Dot. Courtesy of Fort Worth Zoo.

What an adorable baby penguin! Congrats to the Fort Worth Zoo on this historic first hatching! We can’t wait to see Darcy grow up!

Please share this heartwarming news! ❤️🐧