San Francisco Zoo's Adorable Baby Penguins Graduate From "Fish School"

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The San Francisco Zoo's graduating penguin class of 2020 make their way to Penguin Island.

The San Francisco Zoo's annual "March of the Penguins," to celebrate the graduation of their Magellanic penguin chicks from "fish school," is usually attended by hundreds of cheering fans. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions forced this year's ceremony, held on August 8, 2020, to be limited to a handful of lucky guests and officials. However, the lack of fanfare did not appear to bother the six adorable graduates proudly waddling over to their permanent home on Penguin Island.

While some of the new graduates dived right in and instantly began to explore their exciting new habitat, others needed a slight nudge from their trainers to jump into the 200-foot-long pool. The hatchlings were all born in May. They spent the first few months of their lives with their birth parents or foster parents selected from among Penguin Island's 50 residents. Once old enough, the chicks were enrolled in the zoo's "fish school," where they were taught how to swim, eat whole fish, and interact with their caretakers.

Some of the new graduates had to be gently nudged into the water by their caretakers (Credit: SF Zoo.com)

Prior to the epic march, zoo officials announced the winning names for two of the male chicks — "Talented Mr. Slippery" and "Rookie." The innovative names were randomly picked from the hundreds submitted by fans in an online contest, which the zoo organized to involve the public in this popular event and to raise much-needed funds.

Named after Portuguese explorer Fernando de Magalhães, or Ferdinand Magellan, who first spotted the birds in 1520, Magellanic penguins are medium-sized penguins that are endemic to South America. One of four extant species of banded penguins — a group that includes African penguins, Galapagos penguins, and Humboldt penguins — the migratory birds spend summers on land in large breeding colonies and winters foraging at sea. Experts estimate that there are currently 1.3 million pairs of Magellanic penguins left in the wild on the coasts of Argentina and Chile. Unfortunately, the adorable birds are extremely susceptible to the local oil spills that kill about 42,000 penguins each year.

Resources: Sfzoo.org, patch.com

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212 Comments
  • ady_rae_13
    ady_rae_13Wednesday, February 24, 2021 at 8:27 am
    congrats little penguins i so need one!!!!!!
    • samibloom
      samibloomFriday, February 5, 2021 at 11:33 am
      CUTE!
      • llcrazylazyll
        llcrazylazyllWednesday, February 3, 2021 at 7:54 am
        i need one!!!!!!
        • 123gamergirl123
          123gamergirl123Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 12:19 pm
          congrats little penguins
          • cutecat439
            cutecat439Friday, January 22, 2021 at 10:59 am
            I want a baby penguin !!!!!! So cute
            • leiker1414
              leiker1414Tuesday, January 19, 2021 at 8:03 am
              aww there so so so so so cute
              • cutedogs
                cutedogsSunday, January 17, 2021 at 5:36 pm
                I wish i could touch one
                • emshappyplanet
                  emshappyplanetSunday, January 10, 2021 at 5:46 pm
                  Absolutely adorable!
                  • ratatatatata
                    ratatatatataSunday, January 17, 2021 at 5:31 pm
                    I know so cute! ♡︎
                  • shadow2008
                    shadow2008Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 7:27 pm
                    They are so CUTE!!!
                    • penguinplayes
                      penguinplayesMonday, December 14, 2020 at 1:00 pm
                      I love penguins!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!