Published: Jun 9, 2017Newquay Zoo is now home to eight Humboldt penguin chicks
Newquay Zoo is now home to eight Humboldt penguin chicks. The babies hatched at the end of April and are growing quickly. For a long while, the penguin chicks having stayed in their burrows and been looked after by their parents. Some of the older, more confident chicks have started to emerge from their burrows already; they have soft, fluffy thin grey feathers on their chests making them stand out against the other older penguins.
After six months, these chicks will integrate with the rest of the colony and some may join other colonies at alternative zoos around the country.
They are being looked after by bird keeper Jenny Lea, who says the couples are well practiced at hatching and raising chicks now and all are happy and healthy. Jenny said: ‘Watching these little ones hatch never gets old, we are so pleased to have 8 chicks this year, double last year’s hatch and we’re really looking forward to watching them grow.’
Keepers first found the eggs in early March. The incubation period lasts for around 40 days. Once hatched, the chicks remain in their burrows with their parents providing food and protection until they are old enough to fend for themselves. Last year’s chicks, Bowie, Rickman and Robin, are now integrated with the rest of the colony and are slowly adjusting to the new arrivals.
Humboldt penguins traditionally live in groups of 3,300 to 12,000 and are native to South America; they can be found living along the coastlines of Chile and Peru and are named after the Humboldt current in which they swim. In the Zoo, the penguins are fed twice a day – they eat sprats, and are given quantities similar to the amount they might catch in the wild.
Humboldt penguins are visibly thinner than other species – they belong to the group of banded penguins and they look very similar to African penguins. In the cold water a thick coating of two layers of feathers and a layer of blubber allows them to stay warm, dry and waterproof. Their torpedo shaped bodies allow them to move through the water with speed, using their flippers as propellers and their feet for power – they can dive to depths of up to 150 feet.