The question of which animal would be the Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden’s first “zoo baby” of the year came down to the wire Thursday as a penguin egg pipped and a mama aardvark was ready to give birth, but Bowie the penguin hatched first Friday morning, taking the title.
The little penguin, also called a blue or fairy penguin, hatched at about 6 a.m. Friday, weighing in at 46 grams, the zoo announced.
Later Friday, the zoo announced that the penguin was named Bowie due to the shared birthday with singer David Bowie. It's also Elvis' birthday, but the zoo already has a king penguin named Elvis, they said.
It was a fitting victory for the zoo’s penguins, as January and February are when the zoo celebrates “Penguin Days,” which include savings on admission, daily penguin parades at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. and extra animal encounter events on weekends.
The Cincinnati Zoo has the largest colony of little penguins in the U.S., and the colony is still growing, according to bird keeper Jennifer Gainer.
“We now have 33 little penguins,” Gainer said. “Four chicks have hatched in the current breeding season, and there are still seven eggs in the exhibit.”
The baby aardvark is due “any minute,” the zoo announced Friday morning. Mother aardvark Ali has been on 24-hour birth watch since early December.
“Ultrasounds have shown that the baby is in position and Ali is as big as a house. Her chin has a chin. I really thought she would have the first baby of 2016,” nursery keeper Dawn Strasser said.