03/10/2012 12:07 EST | Updated 05/10/2012 05:12 EDT

Penguin Chick Hatched In Toronto Zoo Breeding Program

AFP/Getty Images

Toronto Zoo officials are hailing their African penguin-breeding program a success after announcing the birth of the zoo's first chick.

The zoo announced Friday that the chick hatched Jan. 28 and has been raised by the staff after the parents, Gozi and Puff, rejected the egg as it was hatching.

Ellie or Eldon — depending on the gender of the chick, which will be determined with a blood test in a few months — can be observed by the public at various times throughout the day, beginning Saturday.

The survival of the chick has so far been encouraging for the zoo staff as the first three weeks are most critical for the growth and survival of the chick.

"The hatching and survival of the first chick helps to secure a genetically healthy population," said Tom Mason, curator of birds and invertebrates at the zoo.

"African penguins are a high priority species, and these recent additions to our zoo family are a step in the right direction for the species as a whole."

Among the six breeding pairs are Buddy and Pedro — the male penguins whose same-sex bond made them famous in 2011.

The pair was separated in November so they could mate with females as part of the breeding program.

In early February Buddy and his partner Farai hatched two chicks, but they didn’t survive more than a few days.

Pedro and his partner Thandiwe have not yet produced eggs but the zoo said they are engaging in courtship and nesting behaviour.

Officials said all six breeding pairs have been successfully nesting for the last few months.

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