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African penguins hatched at National Aviary join the colony with new names

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- The endangered African penguins that hatched at the National Aviary last year are moving into the colony, and they've got new names.

Formerly Hatchling 1 and Hatchling 2, Dave and Rita Mae have proved they have what it takes to join Penguin Point with the other adults. 

The two chicks hatched in November and have grown into health juveniles while under the care of parents Patrick and Owen. 

(Photo: National Aviary)

"The first indicator of the two being ready to join the colony was their waterproof feathers starting to come in and being fully developed, which ensures they can comfortably swim and waddle over the habitat's rocky cliffs," Chris Gaus, assistant manager of animal care, said in a news release. 

Their older sibling Pierogi has also been helping them build their social skills before they joined the other penguins. They also learned how to eat fish, the aviary says.

Dave and Rita Mae are part of a Species Survival Plan, representing hope for a species that is estimated to be functionally extinct in South Africa by 2035. As the leader of AZA SAFE: Saving Animals From Extinction for African Penguins, the National Aviary works with colleagues around the world to address challenges that the species face.

The two penguins were named by aviary supporters in honor of loved ones. 

Guests at the aviary can now visit Dave and Rita Mae at Penguin Point. 

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