Species is a first for Central Park Zoo and New York City
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New York, NY – June 29, 2017 – One of the most popular exhibits at WCS’s (Wildlife Conservation Society’s) Central Park Zoo has a new species – and it’s called macaroni.
Six macaroni penguins (Eudyptes chrysolophus) were added to the Polar Circle exhibit. The three males and three females came to the Central Park Zoo from the Montreal Biodome and SeaWorld San Diego on a breeding recommendation from the Macaroni Penguin Species Survival Plan (SSP), a cooperative breeding program designed to enhance the genetic viability of animal populations in zoos and aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA).
Macaroni penguins are not common in North American zoos and aquariums, and only seven AZA-accredited facilities house the species. These six birds have joined a bustling seabird colony that includes four other penguin species – king, gentoo, chinstrap, and rockhopper.
“Many species of penguins are susceptible to the effects of climate change,” said Craig Piper, WCS Director of City Zoos and Central Park Zoo Director. “Learning about these birds and the harsh environment they thrive in is an important step in fostering the next generation of conservation-minded citizens.”
WCS and the Central Park Zoo have a long, successful history with the care and husbandry of penguins. The Polar Circle exhibit is home to more than 60 of the cold-weather aquatic birds.
There are 17 species of penguins in the world. In New York, WCS maintains the five species at Central Park Zoo, as well as Magellanic penguins and little blue penguins at the Bronx Zoo and African black-footed penguins at the New York Aquarium.
Macaroni penguins are one of the larger species of penguins. They are easily identified by their comparatively large bill and characteristic bright yellow crest comprised of long yellow feathers on either side of the head.
The species is classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). In the wild, macaroni penguins live on the southern tip of the South American continent, throughout the sub-Antarctic islands, and on the Antarctic Peninsula. Populations throughout its native range are decreasing due to climate change where higher temperatures lead to a loss of fish, krill, and crustaceans that make up its diet, and the degradation of coastal ecosystems which reduces nesting sites.
WCS scientists are looking at how climate change is affecting penguin populations and working around the globe to address these marine conservation problems that continue to plague wildlife. In Latin America, WCS works to safeguard several species of penguins in coastal Argentina and Chile, and has helped establish marine protected areas in both countries. WCS’s expansive Global Marine Program conducts conservation work and activities in 23 countries and all five oceans to help save marine life.