Alex is the first penguin to be born on Mexican soil. “The sensation when carrying him and feeling his soft feathers is the same as when carrying a cuddly toy,” describes Víctor Hugo Sánchez Licia, Grupo Ventura’s director of aquaristics at the Inbursa Aquarium.
This “chilango” (someone from Mexico City) is a Gentoo penguin, and was born in the first weeks of December. The eggs of this species take 30 to 35 days to be ready after the mother has laid them, and two to three days to hatch.
“Alex is a very strong penguin. He broke his shell very well and his parents protected him from the first moment,” explains Víctor.
This beautiful chick was born weighing 100 grams. The team behind his birth monitor him 24 hours a day. “This baby already weighs 1.6 kilos. He’s quite big. Alex is going to weigh up to eight kilos,” he explains.
Gentoo penguins are native to polar areas and although they’re not in danger of extinction, they’ve been greatly affected by man. The species to which Alex belongs lives from 25 to 27 years and can measure up to 90 centimeters.
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Behind Alex’s birth
Alex’s birth is the result of five years of effort by the Inbursa Aquarium’s breeding program. “It’s such an achievement. We’re so proud and we want everyone to catch this feeling of doing something for the environment,” says Sánchez.
Alex’s parents are the fourth generation to be born in captivity. They’re originally from Japan, and since they arrived in Mexico, a very large group of experts have striven to create optimal conditions for them to reproduce.
Inbursa’s aquaristics team had to match Antarctic conditions, hours of sunlight, and temperature. For Alex’s colony, the water is filtered 45 times a day, and the air every hour, both at a temperature of six degrees. “We had to fine tune conditions for five years, until we hit the sweet spot,” adds Sánchez.
The little penguin was named in honor of Alejandro Nasta, the founder of Inbursa Aquarium. This Friday, January 8, at three in the afternoon, there’ll be a Facebook Live session to get to know him up close and to enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience.
A Christmas present
“He’s a very likable animal. His arrival was a Christmas present. He’s an accomplishment for the whole team, after years of research and training with experts from around the world,” says the team manager.
Alex is monitored non-stop all day, as the feathers he has now aren’t suitable for swimming. If he falls into the water, he could drown or suffer damage to his health. “In a month, he’ll have feathers suitable for swimming. He’s growing very fast. Right now, he chases after Paty, who’s his family vet. She’s like his mother,” he says.
This newborn has three veterinarians and three trainers, who’ll teach him behaviors that he’ll require in his everyday life, such as keeping relaxed.
“We’re first-time parents. The whole team has devoured books about penguins to know how to give him the best care. We take care of everything, including how many grams of food he eats,” adds the expert.
Alex’s birth marks an important milestone for conservation and protection programs in Mexico. This chick is expected to inspire people to protect the wonderful marine world.