Analysing penguin DNA

Our Humboldt penguins have all been officially sexed by analysing their DNA – and we currently have 29 males and 39 females in our colony.

As part of this year’s annual census procedures, which took place back in January, our bird keepers took the opportunity to obtain chest feathers from 21 of our younger penguins for genetic sexing.

Senior Keeper, Kriss Pearson, said: “We have to catch up each penguin to count it as part of the zoo ‘s census requirements anyway, so we also took the opportunity to carry out a health check and flipper banding on our younger birds, as well as carefully plucking a few feathers from them at the same time.

“It’s really just a confirmation exercise as we do have intelligent guesses of their sexes by eye, but this is obviously 100 per cent accurate.

“We have to log the feathers and send them away to be tested at a genetics laboratory overseas and we received the results a few days later.

All 21 birds, who were sexed this year, have also been sent a plastic identification card which tallies with their information on their ZIMS health record.

Don’t forget you can keep an eye on the antics of our colony through our live streaming webcam, which can be found HERE.