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Formal attire at Minnesota Zoo as young penguins make debut

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There was a coming out party at the Minnesota Zoo and the guests of honor all wore tuxedos.

Not that the African penguins had much choice. Ten juveniles who hatched in a behind-the-scenes enclosure late last year went on display for the first time Friday at the zoo's Penguins of the African Coast exhibit, the Star Tribune reports.

African penguins are an endangered species and zoo officials are excited about the additions to their colony in Apple Valley. WCCO reports the four males and six females are getting along nicely with their elders. Swimmingly, you might say.

In its announcement the zoo says the penguins have grown fast since they hatched in November and December. They've already molted into their juvenile plumage, are good swimmers, and are developing their own personalities.

KSTP has a collection of photos of the youngsters.

Speaking of African penguins, the San Francisco Chronicle reported last week on one in the Bay Area who needed a little help with his tuxedo. It seems Pierre, the oldest in the colony living at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park was having trouble with his feathers.

For a few years running, Pierre either failed to molt or molted and remained bald. He was shunned by the rest of the colony and became listless. But a biologist came up with a custom-made wet suit complete with flipper holes and velcro up the back. Pierre perked up, grew new feathers, and took a revived interest in his female partner.

Now, the Chronicle says, he has four generations of offspring living in aquariums and zoos around the world, including Minnesota. He's even the subject of a children's book.

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