Community Selects Name with ‘Orange Pride’ for Zoo’s Penguin Chick

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

And the winner is…Otto! The Rosamond Gifford Zoo today announced that Otto was selected by the community during an online contest to help name a male Humboldt penguin chick hatched in March. After five days of voting and 1,961 votes cast online, Otto rose to the top with 1,357 of the total votes. The zoo thanks the community for their support and participation in the contest.

Six endangered Humboldt penguin chicks hatched at the zoo between December and March. Otto, the fourth chick, hatched March 3 to parents Veinte and Isa. He was introduced by County Executive Joanie Mahoney at a March 23 press conference. Otto means “wealth and fortune” and was chosen by zoo staff in celebration of the Syracuse University Orange men’s and women’s basketball teams and their historic 2016 NCAA Tournament run.

Humboldt penguins are named after the Humboldt Current, a nutrient-rich ocean current in South America that flows along the coast of Peru and Chile. Keepers selected names for the contest that reflected this cultural heritage, in addition to Otto with its local sports pride. The four other names up for vote were Emilio, Hector, Lorenzo and Salvador. 

Only 10,000-12,000 Humboldt penguins remain in the wild. The Rosamond Gifford Zoo plays an important role in conserving Humboldt penguins as part of the Species Survival Plan. Penguins from the zoo’s colony travel to other AZA-accredited zoos and aquariums to ensure efforts to continue populating the species. 

Keepers named the four other chicks hatched this season. Due to a small sample of genetic material in its shell, the gender of the sixth could not be determined and will be named by staff once additional testing is completed (see chart below). There are currently 37 penguins in the zoo’s colony; 48 chicks have hatched at the zoo since 2006. The newest chicks will remain under the care of their parents until they are weaned. They will join the rest of the colony on exhibit at Penguin Coast later this spring and summer.

In celebration of the naming contest, Friends of the Zoo is offering a special $25 Jr. Keeper Adopt an Animal package for a limited time. Become a “Zoo Parent” to Otto and receive a mini penguin plush, personalized adoption certificate, animal fact sheet, color photo of Otto, the latest MyZoo Magazine and two people admitted to the annual after-hours Member Appreciation Event on June 8. The package is only available for purchase on-site at the zoo’s membership desk. Funds raised through the Adopt program support a variety of zoo projects, including habitat improvement, animal enrichment, research and training. 

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