Have you ever met a penguin? I'm not talking about looking at them through glass. The Audobon Aquarium of the America's has a flock of more than two dozen adult African penguins, and the hatching of three endangered African penguin chicks  was just announced Wednesday.
You can actually meet the adult penguins up close and personal. The Aquarium's Backstage Penguin Pass affords visitors the unique opportunity to interact with these rare birds and even fingerpaint" with them.
The chicks were hatched in March and will take about a year to get their black-and-white plumage.  All three were "preemies" &  had to be helped out of their eggs in an incubator.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature declared the species endangered in 2010. An estimated 75,000 to 80,000 African penguins lived in the wild, at the time, breeding on 25 islands and four mainland sites. The numbers reportedly fell by 90% in the 20th century.
The Aquarium has raised 46 chicks since it opened in 1990. It now has 31 African and three southern rockhopper penguins. The newest chicks will be used in outreach programs rather than for breeding. The male was hatched March 23, and named Skua because of his huge appetite. The chicks that hatched March 9th and 14th are Hubie and Marina. Hubie turned out to be female, so the aquarium will hold a contest to find a new name.
I can't help thinking of a book I read in grade school, "Mr. Popper's Penguins."