The first question, upon arriving at the June Keyes Penguin Habitat at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach, isn't the sort of squeal you'll emit -- "squee" or "awww" is most likely -- or whether you'll want to take a penguin of your own home, an urge shared by most visitors.
It's where you'll stand along the water line, as seen through the habitat's clear walls. Stand below and you'll see penguin feet treading; stand above and you'll spy sweet beaks. And stand anywhere in the vicinity, on Tuesday, Aug. 18, and you'll behold the newest member of the aquarium's penguin group, a born-in-June chick.
Cue the heartfelt squees and awwws.
The wee Magellanic Penguin has no name; keepers aren't sure if Baby is a boy or girl quite yet. It's hatch day is of course known -- that was June 5 -- and that it is among the third generation of penguins to be born at the Long Beach aquatic institution.
If you know Roxy and Floyd, they're the chick's mum and dad, and Anderson, Skipper, and Heidi are the baby bird's siblings.
And if you possess deep penguin knowledge, and we're fairly confident you do, you know that a newborn penguin needs time to develop its "watertight juvenile feathers," feathers that take the place of the "downy layer of plumage" that is the penguin's very first coat.
Yep, this process is called fledgling, and, yep, you absolutely should squee and/or awww here, if you're so inclined.
So how will keepers determine if this newest nursery inhabitant is a girl or boy? A blood test. As for what's on the nursery menu, "hand-fed fish" is the special of the day, and every day, while the chick is in the house.
If you can't wait for Aug. 18 to get your in-person, stand-at-the-water-line coos on, you can start dreaming your baby penguin dreams now. Join the aquarium's Adopt an Animal program for fifty bucks and try for a possible chance for a penguin encounter and "a one-of-a-kind painting by a penguin chick."
There's no way to come back from the cuteness of that particular thought, nor should any person try. Just clear the third Thursday in August, if you need some up-close looks at this baby, and dream of how soft a "downy layer of plumage" on a new-to-this-world penguin must be.
Maybe the softest substance in the Solar System? We'd go with that.