Chester Zoo’s conservation project has announced yet another outstanding achievement, this time, welcoming nine beautiful penguin chicks to its existing colony.
Weighing just 80g, each chick has been named after staff member’s favourite fruits, with Plum marking the first to emerge out of the new clan of Humboldt penguins. Now just a few weeks old, the teeny babies have reached around 3kg, and are beginning their swimming lessons after spending plenty of time in their nests with Mum and Dad.
Sophie Bissaker, Parrots and Penguins Keeper at the zoo, said: “There’s nothing quite like hearing tiny chirps coming from the penguin nests and seeing little balls of fluff snuggled up with their parents just moments after hatching. And, over the course of just a few weeks, we’ve been lucky enough to hear lots of those chirps as nine new chicks have now hatched. Penguin Island is buzzing with activity.
“For the first three months of life, mum and dad keep their new chicks tucked away while they feed and nurture them. To help them gain weight while they’re so young, we provide the parents with extra fish which they swallow, churn into a high-protein soup and regurgitate at feeding times.
“Zookeepers have a trend of naming the penguins using a different theme each year and previously we’ve had brands of crisps, chocolate bars and in 2020, our NHS Heroes. After some serious thought, we’ve decided to name this year’s class after different types of fruit! Among them we have Plum, Banana, Lemon and Iona-Berry in honour of a vet who saved dad Munch’s eyesight last year.
“They’ve just started to venture out of the nest to begin swimming lessons in the main pool where they’ll learn how to catch food for themselves. In a few weeks they’ll shed their fluffy grey feathers to reveal their iconic black and white feathers underneath, which are waterproof and help them zoom through the water!”
Humboldt penguins are one of the most at-risk species of penguin, with factors such as climate change, over-fishing of their natural food sources and rising acidity and temperature levels in the oceans causing dwindling numbers in the wild. The species is most commonly found on the rocky coastal shores of Peru and Chile, and has been officially considered vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.