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Penguin pair lead the pecking order

Two rare African penguin chicks have hatched at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park.

The grey fluffy chicks, which hatched just days apart on November 1 and November 4, are are nesting with their parents, the academy said.

The chicks, the size of a tea cup, will now go through "fish school" where they will learn to become proficient swimmers and be comfortable with eating hand-fed fish.

Once they are ready they will join the penguin colony on exhibit in late January and the academy plans to hold a naming contest for the chicks.

The academy's new chicks are the second and third to be hatched as part of its Species Survival Plan programme. Last January the academy hatched its first chick since moving into its new Golden Gate Park home in 2008.

African penguins were classified as an endangered species in 2010 and are at very high risk of extinction in the wild.

"By engaging the public about why sustaining these and other threatened species is so critical, we hope to inspire people around the world to join us by supporting conservation efforts locally and internationally," said Bart Shepherd, director of the academy's Steinhart Aquarium.

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