TAMPA, Fla. - They are fluffy and they are undeniably cute. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay introduced the newest members at the theme park and they are just about one month old.
Three baby African penguins made their public debut Wednesday morning on Good Day Tampa Bay.
"They are still so young. They are super fluffy. They are super tiny. They are super cute," explained Antonio Ramirez, animal care specialist. "Here at Busch Gardens, we get the privilege of working with 20 different penguins here at the park. These guys are just the newest edition."
The little chicks were snuggling in a basket during their television debut, with one barely visible under the fluff of the other young penguins.
"These guys are birds, even though they don’t fly," Ramirez said. "These guys are really good at flying in the water so you can see they have these little flippers here. Once they actually get their adult plumage, all of those feathers are actually going to be water-resistant, waterproof, and also help to keep them warm as well."
For now, they are kind of like cotton balls, he described. As of Wednesday morning, Busch Gardens haven’t identified whether they are boys or girls. It’s just too early to tell.
"They are still very young. They should be getting their graduate exam here coming up soon," Ramirez said. "So, that means they are going to be hanging out over at the animal care center. Our veterinary staff is going to look them over, they’re going to draw some blood and then we’ll figure out if they are boys or girls at that time."
This penguin species are from southern African, and are used to the beaches – making Florida’s weather and temperatures ideal for them, according to Busch Gardens.
"I like to call them the beach penguins," Ramirez described. "They actually prefer to nest in the sandy areas, up in the cliffs, things like that. So, they actually really enjoy the Florida weather here."
He said the African penguins at the theme park live in an open-air exhibit.
"They actually get to experience the Florida heat, the Florida rain, the Florida wind, all that stuff here," Ramirez explained, "It’s actually very natural for them to do. We do like to keep their water a little more chilled. They do like it around 60 degrees. They do like a nice, cooler water to kind of cool down a little bit, but pretty much the Florida weather is perfect for them."