Coming out party for Sid the penguin

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Bird lovers have a rare -- and brief -- chance to meet a penguin sporting the blue-grey fuzz that indicates he's still a baby.

Sidney, an African penguin, will make his public debut Saturday at the National Aviary.

Within a week, he'll be shedding the fuzz, which is soft and silky like a kitten's fur but is actually many tiny "juvenile feathers." Then he'll grow the black and white feathers that make penguins look like they're wearing tuxedoes.

Sidney, who is named for Penguins hockey star Sidney Crosby, hatched Feb. 21 at the Erie Zoo. He arrived in Pittsburgh four weeks ago and has been in quarantine at the North Side facility as a safety precaution for him and for the other birds.

He weighs 53/4 pounds and is about 15 inches tall, which is full-sized for birds of his species.

African penguins are considered an endangered species -- once numbering more than 1 million, now only 100,000 live on the west coast of South Africa.

On Saturday, aviary visitors can meet Sidney from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 2:30 to 4 p.m., and catch parades featuring the four adult African penguins -- Stanley, Elvis, Patrick and Simon -- at 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.

First Published April 17, 2008 4:30 AM


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