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Zoo crawling with babies (2011)

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, April 28, 2011, at 12:06 a.m.
  • Updated Monday, March 12, 2012, at 6:32 a.m.

It's baby time at the Sedgwick County Zoo. Baby penguins. A baby lion, a chimp, goats and lambs. Even a baby giraffe. Visitors to the zoo this Saturday can see plenty of babies and help celebrate World Penguin Day with penguin keeper chats and activities.

And, at 4:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, visitors can watch a feature-length movie called "Creature Feature — Surf's Up" in the Cargill Learning Center. Regular admission applies to get into the zoo. Cost to see the movie is an additional $5 for members and $6 for non-members.

"We have five Humboldt penguin chicks that have been hatched within the last 45 days," said Christan Baumer, the zoo's spokeswoman.

The Cessna Penguin Zoo opened in 2007, Baumer said, and has easily become one of the zoo's most popular exhibits. It has 16 tuxedoed adults and now five babies ranging in size from plump pears to the size of gargantuan cantaloupes.

"The chicks have real soft down," Baumer said. "They are very fuzzy."

But catching sight of the penguins is hit and miss, at best.

The chicks will stay inside nest boxes, protected by their parents until their adult feathers grow in. But every once in a while, one will poke a curious head out to see what's going on in the outside world.

"The older chicks will make their way to the door of the den and their parents will scootch them back to keep them warm," Baumer said. "It's the parents' job to keep them warm. Even just a little wind is cooling to them."

The World Penguin Day keeper chats on Saturday are at 10 a.m., noon, 2 and 3:45 p.m. At the chats, visitors can ask the keepers questions and watch the penguins get treats.

Visitors can also see a baby giraffe born two weeks ago and Mubusa, a chimp born last summer.

"He is getting older," Baumer said. "The thing about chimps is that they grow very slowly. So, right now, he is at that very playful, toddler stage."

Reach Beccy Tanner at 316-268-6336 or btanner@wichitaeagle.com.

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