Baby animals

A passel of penguins make their debut at Omaha zoo

Feb. 18, 2014 at 1:46 PM ET

Five baby penguins at the Omaha Zoo.
Omaha Zoo
Five baby penguins at the Omaha Zoo.

It’s five times the fun at the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha, Neb., which recently announced that five rockhopper penguins were born in late December.

While their sex has not yet been identified, one of the quintuplets has already been named after a little piece of Omaha pride, and they are all showing off their fluffy feathers while they still can. 

The furry penguins were born with down feathers that keep the tiny chicks warm, but not waterproof, which can be bad news for a bird that is supposed to be ready for swimming in the arctic. Over the coming weeks, the down feathers will be replaced by a slick, waterproof coat.

“They will feel more like a wet suit than an Easter chick,” Dan Cassidy, the zoo’s general curator, told TODAY.com.

Because penguins don’t have any outward signs of their gender, Cassidy said that once the birds get a little older, the zoo will send a waterproof feather from each chick to a lab to identify their sex. But not knowing which penguins are male or female hasn’t stopped the zoo from naming one of them.

“One of the penguins has been named, and that’s Peyton,” Cassidy said. The name is a tribute to the Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning and his common use of the word “Omaha” in his calls. It looks like Peyton the penguin might have more in common with the football legacy than his name: The chick is already showing off fast feet in one of the zoo's YouTube videos. 

Peyton the rockhopper at Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium

The chicks are currently in one of the zoo’s brooder rooms, but will be moving into the main penguin exhibit in the next two weeks, where they will be monitored in a playpen until their waterproof feathers emerge. They will then have free run of the exhibit. 

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