The horned puffin population at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium grew by one in July.
The zoo’s first horned puffin to be hatched in captivity busted out of its shell July 18 and now weighs 3.7 ounces, about the weight of a deck of cards.
The fluffy black chick lives with its parents in a nest box in the Rocky Shores sea bird habitat.
Visitors can watch the parents feed their chick, according to zoo staff.
Never miss a local story.
The chick’s gender will remain a mystery until it’s old enough for zoo staff to collect a small blood sample. A check-up from a zoo veterinarian showed the baby puffin to be in good health Saturday.
Four adult horned puffins have lived at the zoo since late 2014.
Earlier this year, zookeepers built nest boxes for the horned puffins. It was, “an effort that really paid off,” said zoo general curator Karen Goodrowe Beck.
As the chick grows, it will develop the characteristic black and white body of a horned puffin. Its beak will turn yellowish-orange with a red tip, and its feet and legs will turn orange.
The birds have Olympic-quality swimming and diving abilities.
Horned puffins live on the coasts of Japan, Russia, British Columbia and Alaska. Some spend winters in the ocean as far south as Washington.