Chester Zoo welcomes 11 baby penguins – the most in more than a decade

Chester Zoo welcomes 11 baby penguins – the most in more than a decade
Chester Zoo has welcomed 11 Humboldt penguins – the most the zoo has seen in more than 10 years (Chester Zoo)
Chester Zoo

Chester Zoo has welcomed 11 baby penguins – the most during a single hatching season for more than a decade.

The Humboldt penguin chicks, which is a breed the zoo describes as being most at risk from extinction, are said to be healthy and well looked after by their parents.

Zoe Sweetman, team manager of parrots and penguins at Chester Zoo, said her zookeepers are “delighted” about the new arrivals.

Zookeeper cleans a baby Humboldt penguin sat in a blue plastic boxZookeepers said they were ‘delighted’ about the new arrivals (Chester Zoo)

She said: “This year has been a really good year for the penguins with the arrival of 11 new chicks – the most we’ve welcomed during hatching season here at the zoo for more than a decade.

“We’re delighted to say that all of the chicks are looking really healthy and the parents have done a superb job of caring for their new arrivals up to this point.”

She added the penguins are healthy and eating well, increasing their weight from 80 grams to 2.5kg in 40 days.

“As keepers, our main role in raising the new youngsters is to ensure the adult penguins have all they need,” she explained.

“Sometimes this can mean providing extra fish – which the parents swallow, churn into a high-protein soup, and then regurgitate to feed the chicks.

“We also weigh the chicks regularly so that we can monitor their development – on average they’ve gone from a mere 80g to 2.5kg in just 40 days. It’s been a huge team effort.”

The zoo keeps track of all new chicks by naming each penguin with a theme – and this year the baby animals are named after plants including Nettle, Thistle, Dandelion, Tulip and Daffodil.

Previous ideas for naming the penguins included NHS heroes, crisp brands, chocolate bars and British Olympians.

“Each year the team chooses a new naming theme for the chicks. With 11 to name we could have chosen to name after an entire football team, but this year we’ve decided to go with plants,” she said.

Humboldt penguin chick sat in an opaque plastic boxThe baby Humboldt penguins are healthy and well looked after by their parents (Chester Zoo)

“Nettle and Thistle are the more spiky characters among the group, whereas Tulip and Daffodil have colourful personalities.”

Humboldt penguins are considered a threatened species and classified as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

The species is native to Peru and Chile, and climate change, over-fishing and rising acid and temperature levels in oceans are said to contribute to the penguins’ decline.

Increased sea temperatures can cause penguins to venture far from their nests – leaving them at risk of being vulnerable in the ocean, according to Chester Zoo.

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