New Chinstrap Penguin Hatches at Moody Gardens

baby chinstrap penguin
Photo courtesy Moody Gardens

Penguin Awareness Day January 20

GALVESTON, Texas (January 18, 2022) – An adorable new Chinstrap penguin chick has hatched at Moody Gardens just in time for Penguin Awareness Day later this week on January 20. The chick hatched on January 7 at 74 grams, and at only 1 week and 3 days old has more than tripled in size, now weighing around 394 grams.

Chinstrap penguins are typically considered fully fledged, meaning they are ready to feed and swim on their own, at about 2 – 3 months old. The chick is currently on exhibit, it’s parents built a discreet nest that is not easily seen from the front of the exhibit. However, once this chick is fully fledged, guests will be able to see him/her out on exhibit swimming and playing with the others.

The proud penguin parents are Dorothy and Squawk. The mother, Dorothy, is 11 years old and arrived at Moody Gardens in February of 2019 from SeaWorld San Antonio where she raised one previous chick in 2015 before being introduced to the South Atlantic exhibit at Moody Gardens. The father, Squawk, is an impressive 22 years old with no previous offspring and he arrived to Moody Gardens in March of 2013 from the Central Park Zoo in New York.

First Chinstrap Penguin Chick at Moody Gardens Since 2013

This is the first Chinstrap penguin chick that Moody Gardens has seen since 2013. The new addition has very valuable genetics because the father, Squawk, has not produced any chicks in the past. This genetic diversity plays an important role for the North American Chinstrap penguin population. “We are excited to be able to add this new Chinstrap penguin chick to the gene pool because this helps us and other facilities to diversify the population,” added Senior Biologist Maggie Reynolds.

The arrival of this chick just before Penguin Awareness Day on January 20 couldn’t be timelier. The purpose of this day is to help educate and bring international focus on the conservation of penguin habits and habitats and to help protect these flightless birds in the wild as the population of some species decline. Having Chinstrap penguins on exhibit allows Moody Gardens to educate the public about the issues that these birds face in the wild. Chinstrap penguins, which are native to the Sub-Antarctic region of the world, are listed as Least Concern by the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List, and wild colonies are increasing in population.

Threats In The Wild

However, they do face threats in the wild due to factors such as climate change and overfishing. Limited food resources causes these birds to have to travel further from shore to hunt for fish, and therefore renders them more vulnerable to predation and other natural elements. Oil spills and pollution are a couple of other threats that these birds face in the wild.

Chinstrap penguins are one of the smaller penguin species that can be found in the South Atlantic exhibit at Moody Gardens. They can be distinguished by the thin black chinstrap of feathers that breaks up the white feathers on their face. They are only black and white without any of the orange or yellow ornamental feathers that some of the other penguin species have.

Smaller Species, Giant Personalities

Although the Chinstrap penguins are a smaller species, they make up for it with their giant personalities. They are one of the bolder species and always enjoy being the center of attention. Guest can view Chinstrap penguins and five other species at the Aquarium Pyramid’s South Atlantic Exhibit or on the live penguin webcam found on They can also visit warm climate penguins at the Humboldt Penguin Exhibit.

The Moody Gardens Aquarium Pyramid is one of the largest and most diverse aquariums in the United States. With over one million gallons of water, the Aquarium Pyramid houses marine life from five distinct environments. Not only does the collection include penguins, but they also have sting rays, sharks, seals, sea lions and over 200 different species of fish.

For more information call 409-744-4673 or visit

Moody Gardens® is a public, non-profit, educational destination utilizing nature in the advancement of rehabilitation, conservation, recreation, and research.