DENVER - The Denver Zoo is celebrating the births of three penguins this year.
Two African penguins hatched on January 28 and February 11. A Humboldt penguin hatched on February 14.
All three have slowly gained weight behind-the-scenes under the care of their parents and are starting to make their public debuts, according to zoo officials.
The African penguin chicks are now in their outdoor habitat, weather depending. The Humboldt penguin chick will appear in public soon. None of the chicks' genders are known yet, nor do they have names, officials said.
African penguins grow to more than two-feet-tall and can weigh around 10 pounds. Their black and white patterns are unique to each penguin, like fingerprints on humans. More important though, the patterns serve as camouflage from predators in the wild as they are swimming. Seen from above, their dark backs blend in with the water. Seen from below, their white bellies blend in with the sky above.
The African penguin population has been reduced by about 90% in the past century and currently only about 120,000 birds remain. They are listed as “endangered.”
Humboldt penguins inhabit rocky shores near cliffs or on islands off the coasts of Chile and Peru. Only about 12,000 Humboldt penguins remain and they are classified as “vulnerable.”