In celebration of Valentine’s Day we wanted to showcase some of our committed penguin pairs.

Did you know that most penguins are monogamous? Around 60-90% of penguin pairs will mate for life, or stay monogamous within a breeding season. During this “season of love,” our aquarists voted on their favorite penguin couples. Read about our devoted penguins below and let us know your favorite!

Penguin Couple #1: Jahleel III and Namibia IV

As part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP), Namibia was donated to the New England Aquarium by the Georgia Aquarium in November 2016. The SSP is a breeding and transfer plan, where animals are traded and donated to other institutions to ensure genetic variability among penguin populations in zoos and aquariums.

Namibia initially kept to herself upon entering her new home in our penguin exhibit. After a while, Jahleel (our young, quirky mate-less male!) was brought to help acclimate Namibia to her new home. After spending some time together behind the scenes, it was clear these two had a bond! According to our aquarists, they have been “stuck like glue for the past five years and hardly leave each other’s sides!”

Although this penguin pair has not had a successful breeding season yet, they continue to spend their days together in their own territory on one of the penguin islands in our exhibit. 

When visiting the Aquarium, you can spot this couple by their green and orange bracelets on their left (Jahleel) and right (Namibia) wings. Jahleel is a bit larger and older than Namibia, but Namibia is often the one to ward off other penguins who approach their territory!

 

Penguin Couple #2: Geyser II and Peeko

Geyser and Peeko have been a bonded pair here at the Aquarium since 2015! These two are the epitome of “opposites attract.” Geyser tends to keep to himself and stays pretty close to his island. He is what some of our aquarists call a “home body.” On the other hand, Peeko is very active and spends the majority of her day swimming and visiting other islands to eat. Although they spend their days apart, they always meet up in their cave at the end of each day to sleep!

 

Penguin Couple #3: Kaapse II and Brenton II

Kaapse and Brenton are currently the youngest couple in the penguin colony! Hatched only 10 days apart, they are what our aquarists consider “childhood sweethearts.” They spent most of their time together as juveniles and started displaying bonding behaviors right after their first molt. Our aquarists like to say this couple is “as thick as thieves!”

Kaapse and Brenton can usually be seen swimming together and preening each other frequently. Currently, they are on the hunt for that perfect island territory to settle in. As for the future, next year they might be old enough to begin their first nesting season! 

 

 

Penguin Couple #4: Chrysocome II and Terhalten

Chrysocome II is a 21-year-old female Southern Rockhopper, and her mate Terhalten is a 16-year-old female Rockhopper. These two are one of the only female/female bonded pairs here at the Aquarium. Although they are not yet parents, we hope they will be! This pair has demonstrated their ability to incubate eggs, so it is very likely they will be surrogate parents in the future.

Chrysocome II and Terhalten spend most of their time together in their various territories on the island and display the same bonding behaviors as the birds mentioned above, they preen each other and defend their territories from other birds. Terhalten has also been known to defend Chrysocome II from other birds or staff members that get too close!