With the Midwest in the grip of a brutal winter, the Kansas City Zoo has welcomed two King Penguin chicks.
The first chick hatched on January 13 during a blizzard and was given the name “Blizzard” by the care team. A second King Penguin chick hatched on February 2 during the polar vortex which brought below-zero temperatures to Kansas City. The zoo solicited name suggestions for the second chick on Facebook, and fans suggested wintry names for little ball of fluff. Top names included “Pothole,” “Snowball,” “Icee,” “Chilly,” and “Vortex.” Vortex was chosen as the winning name.
You can see the entire Penguin habitat and all its residents every day on the zoo’s Penguin Cam.
There, you’ll see “play pens” separating the two chicks and their parents from the rest of the flock. This allows the other penguins to see and hear the new arrivals, but gives the new families some privacy. Blizzard, the older of the two Penguin chicks, has his very own Blizzard Cam. On that camera, you’ll see Blizzard, who is covered in fuzzy gray feathers and stands almost as tall as his parents.
At up to 39 inches tall, King Penguins are the second largest of all Penguin species. They nest on temperate islands in the South Atlantic Ocean and on the coast of Antarctica. Diving to depths of more than 300 feet, King Penguins forage for fish, squid, and krill in the cold Antarctic waters. King Penguins as a whole are not under threat at this time, but certain populations, including those on Pig Island, have declined 90% in recent years. Scientists are not certain if this is due to changes in the ecosystem, or if the Penguins have dispersed to new breeding grounds.