A new baby animal with a big personality made his debut at a Tennessee zoo.
The Memphis Zoo welcomed one of its newest residents — an African black-footed penguin named Elrond — after the baby hatched Oct. 22, according to the zoo’s Nov. 29 news release. His parents, Betty and Pippin, also became first-time parents with Elrond’s birth, the zoo said.
“Keepers are very proud of Betty and Pippin and the hard work they put into making this a successful pairing,” the zoo said in the release.
Both Elrond and his dad are named after “Lord of the Rings” characters, the zoo said.
Elrond’s birth was part of the zoo’s Species Survival Plan for African black-footed penguins, which are listed as endangered because of overfishing of sardines and anchovies, as well as oil spills, according to the Denver Zoo’s website.
African black-footed penguins are considered to be “excellent swimmers and divers,” according to the Denver Zoo. They are able to reach speeds of more than 13 miles per hour with their “torpedo-shaped bodies” the Denver Zoo said, and their stiff flippers allow them to be incredibly agile.
Their natural range is on the nearby islands and mainland of southwestern Africa, according to the Denver Zoo.
The new baby is the 48th African black-footed penguin chick born at the Memphis Zoo, according to the release. The zoo’s colony was established in 1987, per the release, and includes 18 total of the species.
Because Elrond is not yet waterproof, he will continue to be hand-raised by his keepers, the zoo said. That will last about two months before he is fully introduced to his fellow penguins at Penguin Rock in the zoo, according to the release.
But Elrond isn’t waiting to express his personality, the zoo said, as he’s begun to show off his bold behavior.
“He is already proving to be a sassy chick,” the zoo said.