CINCINNATI — Reds Hall of Famer Barry Larkin has been granted his highest honor yet: Having a zoo baby named for him.
Though he's less shortstop and more short stuff, the African penguin chick now bears the name of a Cincinnati legend, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden announced on Friday.
Barry Larkin — the person, not the penguin — celebrated his 59th birthday on April 28, the same day the zoo announced the penguin's new moniker.
"There are several Cincinnati Reds fans on the bird team, including me, and I actually lived in the same neighborhood as the Larkins when I was a kid," said Rickey Kinley, Cincinnati Zoo's bird team leader. "Our chick was two weeks old when the City of Cincinnati renamed a street after Barry Larkin, and that gave me the idea to give the penguin his name too."
The African penguin chick has a name! Say hello to Larkin, named after the great Barry Larkin, whose Birthday just happens to be today! @Reds @BarryLarkin @BallySports pic.twitter.com/ibfLhWos6N
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) April 28, 2023
The pint-sized fluffball had a tough start in the beginning; the zoo said he had to be hand-raised because, despite his parents best efforts, he struggled to eat. But since then, he's been packing on the pounds aplenty and is ready for his debut to the major leagues.
The zoo said baby Larkin has already proved to be a good flock-mate, like his namesake. During his time in the zoo's brooder, Larkin was given his own nest, as was a kea chick also in the brooder. Still, zoo staff members consistently found Larkin had climbed from his nest and into the kea's nest for some snuggle time.
We have a kea chick (left) & an African penguin chick in the brooder. They have their own separate "nests" but whenever the keepers come back in for their next feeding they find the African penguin chick has climbed in with the kea chick. They seem to enjoy each other's company! pic.twitter.com/KeXCvAhL84
— Cincinnati Zoo (@CincinnatiZoo) April 12, 2023
While he won't be able to sign your baseball cards or other Reds memorabilia, and he's highly unlikely to hit a home run, Reds and zoo fans alike can visit Barry Larkin — the penguin, not the person — in African Penguin Point sometime in May, as the zoo celebrates all its zoo babies.
So far this spring, the Cincinnati Zoo has also welcomed Kip, a 6-month-old white-cheeked gibbon who's been adopted by aunties Skittles and M&M, and a pair of as-yet-unnamed bat-eared fox kits. Expected later this spring is a bongo baby; the zoo announced in April that, although mother Stevie's mate, Beau, passed away earlier in 2023, he's left behind a "bittersweet bundle of joy."
Though it will join the zoo a little late to be a spring zoo baby, Lightning the sloth is also pregnant and expecting her first child in the early summer.