Bert the penguin
Orphan penguin becomes a dad
27 October 2009
Keepers at a Norfolk zoo have become proud foster grandparents after one of their hand-reared animals became a dad for the first time.
Bert, the African penguin, had a lucky escape after staff at Banham Zoo intervened in 2006 to stop his egg being crushed by a dispute between two pairs of penguins.
The baby, who was saved just before his nest site was waterlogged by heavy rains, was raised by keepers and has become a popular resident at the south Norfolk tourist attraction.
Managers at the zoo, near Attleborough, spoke of their delight after the three-year-old helped father the first arrival of the year amongst its 17-strong African penguin colony.
Bert's chick, who has not yet been named, was born in August and is expected to leave its burrow any day soon.
Mike Woolham, animal manager at Banham Zoo, said the news of the hatchling was greeted with “more excitement than usual” amongst the keepers because of the father.
“He is a little bit special. We try to avoid an animal imprinting on us when we hand-rear them, but you cannot help get close to them when you spend that much time with them and Bert is tamer than most,” he said.
Mr Woolham added that Bert was proving to be an excellent father by feeding his partner and child and protecting the burrow from other penguins.
“Sometimes hand-reared animals do not make the best of parents because they sometimes imprint on humans. But Bert realises the fact he is a penguin and has successfully paired up and is doing all the things a penguin should,” he said.