A baby penguin gets its feathers for debut at Long Beach aquarium

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A baby penguin joined its colony in the public exhibit Tuesday at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It has grown its watertight feathers, which allows it to be able to swim in the enclosure.

For the past few weeks, the baby penguin has been raised behind-the-scenes by both its penguin parents and the aquarium's staff.  

"One of the things that is really important to us is being able to eat from the hand so we have some dietary control over what it's eating for the day," said Robert Mortensen, a curator at the Aquarium of the Pacific.

Penguin curators also gave the chick some swim lessons as its watertight feather grew in.

"It's very curious," Mortensen said. "It likes to go up and check out things whereas other babies that we've had will go away from a camera ... This one will always go up to it."

The bold baby penguin has no name yet, but that's because the aquarium staff has to perform a blood test to find out the gender of the chick. The gender and the public's chance to participate in the naming of the bird will be announced in the coming weeks.

Unlike adult penguins, the chick currently has a lighter-colored plumage and does not have a stripe across its chest. It will be another year before it goes through a so-called "catastrophic molt" and takes on a more-adult like appearance.

The Magellanic penguin hatched in late May to two parents, Roxy and Floyd. The chick comes from a long line of Long Beach-born penguins. It is the fifth generation and 10th baby penguin to hatch at the Aquarium of the Pacific. Magellanic penguins are native to the coasts of Argentina and Chile.

You can try to spot the baby on the aquarium's live penguin cam.

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