Playing mum to penguin chick

It’s World Penguin Day and DZG bird keepers are busy playing mum to an abandoned Humboldt chick.

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Trainee Keeper Jess Jones with the Humboldt penguin chick

As well as looking after more than 75 residents in Penguin Bay – the largest parent-reared Humboldt group in the UK – keepers are also handrearing the chick who they found barely alive on the enclosure’s beach.

Section Leader, Nicola Wright, said: “It was very touch-and-go when we discovered it, as it wasn’t doing well.

“We think it’s about a month-old, so has been parent-reared for a few weeks, but we’ve no idea who mum and dad are and why it was abandoned.

“Sometimes if there’s more than one chick the parents will abandon the weaker one, or if it’s the stronger one it may have wandered off on its own and no-one came to get it back.”

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After taking the baby under their wing and feeding it three times a day with chunks of sprats, keepers are delighted with its progress.

Nicola added: “The chick is doing really well, as long as it starts to put on weight we’re happy and it responded to food immediately and is steadily increasing in size.”

The chick will remain in the rearing room in the off-show aviaries for a few more weeks before being introduced to the other penguins in the walkthrough enclosure and keepers won’t know its sex until it’s an adult. 

web_dzg_baby_penguin_3_2We first started our colony back in 1991 with just five hand-reared chicks, a number that has grown steadily over the past 25 years and our oldest bird, Pingu, celebrated his quarter century yesterday! 

Our conservation programme has also been recognised by BIAZA (British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums) and gained an award for sustained breeding.

As part of our World Penguin Day celebrations, visitors can learn more about the 17 different species of penguin, by taking a look at the information board in the Discovery Centre and stopping by the 3pm talk and feed at the enclosure to find out more about our Humboldts. 

And don’t forget you can see the daily antics in Penguin Bay by checking out the live webcam by CLICKING HERE. 

Humboldt penguins (Spehiscus Humboldti) are native to South America and named after the cold water current in which they swim. The species is vulnerable due to a declining population caused by over-fishing and habitat destruction.