Hawaii may be the last place one would expect to find penguins. But
at Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa on Waikiki Beach,
a colony of African Blackfoot Penguins does more than thrive amid
the palm trees and tourists. At this Village in the middle of the
Pacific, they’re also raising a family.
Mana, a male African blackfoot penguin, was hatched at the
Village on Jan. 19. The offspring of Remy and Oreo, he is the
fourth penguin born at the Village since penguins joined the
resort’s family in 1987. The eight-bird colony is one of the most
surprising and enjoyable attractions guests find at the 22-acre
Weighing just 60 grams at birth, Mana is now nearing 1.3
kilograms thanks to a steady diet of small fish hand-fed by the
resort’s highly trained wildlife staff. He’ll reach his full size
of approximately three kilograms in April. At the same time, his
juvenile coat of fur-like gray and white feathers will replace the
gray down that insulates him now.
Since Mana’s mother showed little maternal interest, the
wildlife staff removed Mana from the colony and have been raising
him in the resort’s wildlife care facility. So naturally, he’s now
accustomed to human interaction.
Mana scuttles about the facility while the Village’s six-person
wildlife staff tends to the needs of the more than 70 exotic birds
that also reside at the Village. Mana has clearly bonded, in
particular, with wildlife assistant Wendy Kuhns-Higashino,
following her around the facility and watching her every movement.
In fact, Mana will chirp for Wendy’s attention even when another
wildlife staffer is holding or tending to him.
“Under Mana’s circumstances, intervention was necessary,” said
Kuhns-Higashino. “Although his responsiveness to me is cute, we
encourage the behaviors that will help him adapt to life in the
Mana’s name means “Spirit” in the Hawaiian language, an apt
moniker given the unusual parental circumstances the chick has had
“Mana’s birth was very special. This little baby has shown
tremendous spirit in fighting the early battle for survival,” said
the resort’s general manager, Noel Trainor. “We wanted a name
befitting that, and ‘Mana’ is a strong name for a strong little
After Mana grows his juvenile coat, the wildlife staff will
begin to reintroduce the young male to his winged family. He’ll
have supervised visits to the colony’s outdoor enclosure, each
visit longer than the previous, until it is clear the colony has
Due to the staff s experience, the Hilton Hawaiian Village has
become one of just two non-zoo facilities in the United States
authorized to breed and raise African blackfoot penguins. Hilton
Hawaiian Village is also licensed as a Wild Bird Rehabilitation
Facility by the State of Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural
Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort & Spa features a beachfront
lagoon, waterfalls, five swimming pools, gardens, art collection,
exotic wildlife, Friday night Jubilee fireworks display, over 20
restaurants and lounges, over 90 shops, the full-service Mandara
Spa and Holistica Hawaii Preventive Medicine Center.