NIAGARA FALLS, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Aquarium of Niagara has announced Monday that it was successful in breeding Humboldt penguins in the $3.5 million Penguin Coast exhibit.
Two recently hatched chicks join the existing colony of 14 adult Humboldt penguins. This is the first penguin hatching at the Aquarium of Niagara since April 2006.
The exhibit opened in 2018, and allowed the Aquarium to receive accreditation from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums and restart a breeding program for the threatened species, according to a press release.
The Aquarium of Niagara is currently closed to the public in response to the COVID-19 virus.
The Aquarium of Niagara is one of only 20 facilities in the United States and Canada to house the threatened Humboldt penguin species.
The 3,500-square-foot Penguin Coast exhibit includes a 15,000-gallon pool, nesting areas, programming and interactive features, while providing a state-of-the-art habitat for the colony to grow to more than 20 Humboldt penguins.
Humboldt penguins are native to coastal Peru and Chile and are threatened by human intrusions, invasive species, climate change as well as mining and quarrying for energy production. There are now fewer than 32,000 mature individuals in the wild.
The New York Power Authority provided $1.75 million to support the penguin project through its Western New York Power Proceeds Allocation Board, which uses earnings from the sale of unused hydropower from the Niagara Power Project to fund economic development projects in the region.
Other funding included $300,000 from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council and $100,000 through Market New York in 2016.