Six pairs of happy feet are now tapping their way around Chester Zoo’s Humboldt penguin enclosure. The zoo is egg-cited to announce the hatching of six penguin chicks which are being named after South East Asian Islands.
Each year zookeepers pick a theme which they name the newly-born chicks using. Previous themes have included British Olympic athletes, English football legends and even chocolate bars. The South East Asian theme was selected as the zoo will unveil its new £40 million Islands development in the summer.
Andy Woolham, team manager at Chester Zoo said, “Naming the penguins is a bit of fun for the team, it allows us to track the age of the birds easily because doing it by their spot pattern can be challenging.”
“This year, we decided to celebrate the up-coming opening of our new Islands development and named the chicks in the order that visitors will see each island whilst on their very own expedition. Although the penguins aren’t moving to Islands, given that it’s such a momentous moment in the zoo’s history, we thought our new fluffy friends could help us mark the occasion,” he added.
First to hatch was Panay who was named for an island in the Philippines. He is a tiny little fluff ball who weighed just 68g at birth.
He was soon joined by some new friends as Woolham explained, “We named the first chick Panay, who was quickly followed by Papua, Bali, Sumatra, Sulawesi, and Sumba, but we’re still eagerly waiting for a few more eggs to hatch!”
Keepers put a special effort into observing the nutrition, weight and development of the chicks.
Sally Baross, penguin keeper at Chester Zoo said, “The team closely monitor the chicks, weighing them daily and giving extra fish to the parents so that they can feed their hungry new arrivals.”
Panay is growing well she added, “All of the chicks are doing really well and have grown incredibly quickly. The first chick, Panay, was only 68g on hatching but has soon shot up to 450g so we’re really pleased.”
Humboldt penguins are named for the Humboldt current off the coast of South America where they regularly swim. They feed on small fish and crustaceans in the wild. When their food chain is disturbed by the El Nino currents their colonies can come under threat. Of the 17 penguin species found worldwide they are the most at risk. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) list them as ‘vulnerable.’
Chester Zoo funds programs which help to conserve penguins in their homeland.
The penguin parents will lay two eggs which they incubate for 40 days. After hatching both parents rear the young till they fledge.
Photo Credit: Chester Zoo