Photos courtesy of the Louisville Zoo 

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Four little penguins have arrived at the Louisville Zoo.

The zoo announced Monday that two of the chicks are being hand-raised by staff and the other two are being raised by their penguin parents.

The chicks all hatched in January. "Pearl" is a 74-day-old male, "Squirt" is a 69-day-old female and two males are 74-days-old, but they have yet to be named.

Zoo officials say they were named by the man who helped them hatch. Pearl and Squirt are being hand-reared by zoo staff and will eventually be introduced to the other two baby penguins, which are being raised by their penguin parents. 

Curator of Birds, Gary Michael and the Bird Department staff have been watching over the baby birds since they hatched. The release explains that penguins usually lay two eggs at a time. But they choose one to nurture and the second is ignored. So the staff carefully removed the ignored eggs to ensure their survival. Michael even worked for two days to help the "ignored" chicks from their shells.

"These youngsters that are being hand-reared were rejected by their parents with the hatch of healthy bouncing siblings, so we scooped them up and began a hand-rearing project," Michael said.

The little or blue penguins are native to the coast of New Zealand and the southern coast of Australia. The penguin population is down to about 500,000 in the wild because of habitat loss and predators like domestic dogs and cats.

There are about 348 birds in managed zoo programs in the world and 108 of those are in the U.S. Twelve of the penguins live at the Louisville Zoo.

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