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A female baby penguin prepares to break out of her shell. SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS.

Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park welcomed a baby penguin in December, the first born at the facility in eight years.

The African penguin chick, a female, hatched in early December in front of a large number of Gulfarium employees.

“It was very exciting,” said Meredith Horn, director of marketing and communications. “We had the veterinary staff and the animal care team to monitor the progress. We were ready for her.”

The incubation period for an African penguin is 38 to 42 days, and the egg takes between 24 and 48 hours to hatch, she said.

“African penguins are an endangered species.” says Will Merrill, Gulfarium’s President and CEO. “They are at serious risk of extinction, so any effort we can do to help preserve the species is vital.”

A female baby penguin was born recently at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS
A female baby penguin was born recently at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. SPECIAL TO THE DAILY NEWS

The Gulfarium anticipates the chick will begin to integrate with the rest of the colony in just a little over a month, and shortly thereafter, be ready to make its debut.

The public is invited to follow the chick’s progress on Gulfarium’s Facebook page. All updates including milestones, a naming contest and more will be made available via Facebook.

Right now, the chick is covered in a fluffy down.

“The next process is for her to gain her juvenile waterproof feathers so she will be ready to take her first swim and meet the colony,” Horn said.

The facility has 14 penguins in its colony.