Photos: Jordann Tomasek, Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium celebrates its first successful penguin hatch season

Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego is thrilled to announce that it has hatched five Little Blue Penguin chicks this season. These adorable additions mark a significant achievement in the aquarium's dedication to penguin care and conservation efforts.

“It's so exciting to introduce these juveniles to the colony as they are curious and adventurous and a delight to watch explore their new home through diving and socializing,” said Kayla Strate, Assistant Curator of Birds. “This is a huge milestone for Birch Aquarium as it's our first successful contribution to an Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) avian breeding program.”

The first chick debuted on New Year's Day in the aquarium’s Penguin Care and Conservation Center in Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins. The two middle chicks hatched on Jan. 23 and Jan. 26 and the two youngest chicks hatched on Feb. 18 and Feb. 20, 2024. Four of the chicks are male, while the aquarium is still awaiting confirmation of the sex of the youngest one.

These are the first chicks hatched at Birch Aquarium since welcoming Little Blue Penguins in 2022.

This success can be largely attributed to the aquarium’s dedicated Penguin Care Team who worked around the clock to provide the best quality care. Every decision regarding each chick's well-being was made with the utmost care and consideration, from recording observations to adjusting breeding plans and more.

“This has been our goal since before our penguin exhibit was even imagined! It truly took expert-level skills to successfully raise our little penguins by hand and I am so proud of my team for rising to the challenge,” said Strate.

Two Little Blue Penguin chicks practice swimming behind the scenes.
Two Little Blue Penguin chicks practice swimming behind the scenes.

During their first few months behind the scenes, the chicks acquire important life skills including how to eat, socialize and swim. Around the 3-month mark, each chick “graduated” and joined the rest of the colony.

Birch Aquarium has actively engaged in penguin cooperative breeding programs with other Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) institutions to strengthen the genetics and overall population of Little Blue Penguins in human care. Thanks to these concerted efforts, the aquarium’s penguin colony includes individuals from five different zoos and aquariums. These chicks will further diversify the aquarium’s population.

All five chicks have joined the rest of the colony in Beyster Family Little Blue Penguins and can be identified by their colorful wing bands.

  • White/White
  • Blue/Green
  • Black/Black
  • Orange/Yellow
  • Yellow/Brown

Penguin enthusiasts can follow the aquarium’s social media channels for the latest updates. The aquarium also offers daily penguin talks and feedings where guests can discover what makes these seabirds so special. The full schedule can be found on the aquarium’s website.

About Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the public exploration center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. Perched on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, Birch Aquarium features the groundbreaking work of Scripps Oceanography and UC San Diego scientists as well as conservation breeding programs and interactive exhibits. Birch Aquarium’s mission is to connect understanding to protecting our ocean planet, which it achieves through engaging hands-on learning opportunities for more than 500,000 guests and 40,000-plus pre-K-12 students each year. Visit for more information.