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A team from Chicago's aquarium traveled 8,000 miles to save abandoned baby penguins

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A team from Chicago's Shedd Aquarium traveled 8,000 miles to help save baby penguins abandoned on South Africa's coast. 

Hundreds of endangered South African penguin chicks are abandoned by their parent each year, according to a release from the Shedd Aquarium

This is the fourth time the aquarium has teamed up with the non-profit, South African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB), which works to rescue seabirds. 

"The strandings are due to the species’ feather-changing process known as 'moulting,'" aquarium officials said in a release. "When moulting, the adult penguins are unable to go into the cold ocean to hunt for fish, so chicks that hatch late in the year are often left behind and face the risk of starvation." 

The aquarium noted that some of the penguins have also been affected by "illness, oil spills or injuries as a result of human activity." 

South African penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and it's estimated that less than 25,000 breeding pairs remain in the wild, the aquarium explained.

The aquarium noted that this makes the work they are doing in South Africa "critical" to retaining the species' population. 

So far this year, SANCCOB has admitted almost 500 abandoned penguin chicks. 

The aquarium explains that rescued chicks are first evaluated by experts and then placed in temperature controlled habitats where they are fed multiple times each day. 

Chicks receive regular checkups until they are approximately three months old. Once they are deemed healthy enough, experts microchip them release them into an established penguin colony. 

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