Posted By : The Animal Facts Editorial Team
Date: March 4, 2021 11:10 pm
The rockhopper penguin chick is all grown up at the St Louis Zoo
Photo Credit: St Louis Zoo
The St Louis Zoo in the USA have introduced their rockhopper penguin chick which hatched on December 11th 2020. This is the first successful hatching of the species at the zoo in over a decade.
Keepers put out a call for help in deciding between four names they had selected. Yesterday the results were announced with the name Opal winning out over Pebbles, Luna and Lumi.
Soon the chick will be reintroduced to the rockhopper penguin family in the exhibit at Penguin & Puffin Coast.
The birth is extra exciting due to the large effort which was required to allow the successful raising of the chick.
Mother star laid an egg in to a nest which had been built by the chick’s father Rocky. Previously when Star and Rocky have laid eggs they have had difficulty in incubating their eggs. As such keepers made the difficult decision to remove the egg and place it in an artificial incubator at the Bird House. Rocky and Star were given a dummy egg which they could look after to practice their skills.
Over the next 32 days keepers monitored the chick’s progress and were rewarded when on December 11th 2020 the chick successfully hatched.
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When signs of hatching were identified keepers returned the egg to the exhibit. Unfortunately the nest formed by Rocky and Star was much too dangerous for a wiggling chick as it say right above the water.
Step in Rockie and Buddha. This pair had a much safer nest and unfortunately their egg was infertile. The good news they were available to adopt Opal. Over 48 hours the chick emerged from the egg and once it did the new foster parents eagerly fed and cared for her.
After being raised by her new parents the chick was moved to an off display area where it could try out its new hopping legs away from the dangers of the open water. While they are young their down feathers are not waterproof meaning a fall could be fatal.
The behind the scenes area also allows keepers to monitor her growth and ensure she is developing along with learning how to eat and swim.
She is also given opportunities to socialize with other penguins from the colony who will come to visit during the day.
Around 3 months old the chick will return to the exhibit to live with her family and also meet guests.
Left: The chick in the nest with its foster parents
Right: The chick during a health check
Photo Credit: SEA LIFE Melbourne Aquarium