The aquarium's first African blackfooted penguin chick will be hand-raised by staff members for the next two months and will return to the Splash Zone exhibit, where it will serve as an "education bird" and help raise awareness about threats penguins face in the wild.
During the two months, staff will hand-feed fish to the chick and teach it to swim, while it becomes accustomed to being handled by humans. Chicks are vulnerable and the move will protect it from potential hazards, officials said.
"A young chick can't swim, and it might fall in the water and be unable to get out," associate curator of aviculture Aimee Greenebaum said in a statement. "Other birds might become aggressive toward it."
Greenebaum added that when birds become curious, they tend to investigate by biting.
The chick hatched Jan. 8 and has been cared for by its parents, Umngane and Dassen.
The baby now weighs 2.4 pounds and its sex remains unknown. The sex of penguin can only be determined with a blood test, not color or size, according to the aquarium's website.
Over time, the chick will be slowly reintroduced to the Splash Zone environment.