Pair of endangered penguins hatched at San Diego Zoo

SAN DIEGO -- The San Diego Zoo announced Thursday that a pair of endangered African penguin chicks hatched in March and will be added to its penguin habitat in the next few weeks.

The fluffy chicks, named Doug and Barbara in honor of San Diego Zoo Global CEO Douglas G. Myers and his wife Barbara, are the first chicks hatched at the Zoo from eggs laid by penguin couples in the Dan and Vi McKinney Penguin Habitat, according to the zoo.

Shortly after hatching, animal care staff began working with the chicks to get them used to human interaction and the pair will be reintroduced into the penguin colony within the next few weeks, zoo officials said.

"Doug and Barbara are sweet, amazing birds, and we want them to feel safe," Zookeeper Debbie Denton said. "We work with them while they're young because it helps them be comfortable around us when we feed them, do health checks or change their name bands."

The pair will be featured on the Zoo's first-ever "reality television style" web series titled "Penguin Beach," set to premiere this summer on Facebook, Youtube and the San Diego Zoo Kids channel.

African penguins are an endangered species whose numbers have dropped by more than 60 percent in the last three decades, according to the zoo. Only 23,000 breeding pairs currently exist.

The species' decline is due to several factors including disease, climate change, habitat destruction, lack of food from overfishing and pollution.

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