Vote by Monday, February 8, to name the first hatchling of the year.

Penguin breeding season is in full swing at the Maryland Zoo, which means baby chicks abound. And for the first hatchling born this year, they want the public to help name it! 

For new arrivals, they always go with a theme; past names have been inspired by literary characters and spices. For 2021, they're embracing the glam with gemstones. They've even teamed up with Smyth Jewelers to bring some extra flash to the African penguin colony. Babies born in this cycle have already been named Diamond, Topaz, Pearl, and Onyx—how cute is that?

African penguins breed between the months of September and February. Once the eggs are laid, the babies hatch over the span of 38-42 days. According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, they are an endangered species. It's fitting then that these rare creatures will bear the names of rare gemstones!

baby penguin
Courtesy of Maryland Zoo

You'll have until Monday, February 8, at 10 a.m. to submit your pick here. Voting is limited to once per day, but feel free to vote as many times as you wish. Stay tuned on the zoo's social media accounts and website, where they'll announce the winning pick!

Here are the four adorable possibilities:

  • Emerald: a rich green color associated with good health and fortune
  • Ruby: a fiery red gem representing love and courage
  • Sapphire: a celestial blue known for bringing out one's inner beauty
  • Garnet: a multi-faceted red signifying faith, friendship, and loyalty

All of these gems would make a wonderful name for the colony's next addition, but it's up to you to make the call. You can cast your vote here. In the meantime, be sure to check out the zoo's latest offerings in visitor experiences (penguin fish toss, anyone?).

What do you think the next penguin chick should be named? We're partial to Ruby and Sapphire, but they're all shoo-ins in our book! Have a better name? Sound off in the comments.