Sunday, July 18, 2010

Whipsnade Zoo Rockhopper Chick

By Natalee Hazelwood

VIDEO: New baby penguin at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo

Video can be found at Source--click here to see it 

Published Date: 16 July 2010
Chick named after F1 driver Mark Webber
One of ZSL Whipsnade Zoo's newest residents has been punching above his weight.

Webber, a 10-week-old Rockhopper penguin, is being reared in the safety of the bird garden at the wild animal park until he has reached the maturity of three months.

The youngster had been mixing with adult Humboldt penguins but has now been moved by Whipsnade gamekeepers in a bid to avoid getting pecked at.

Team leader Clive Bates and gamekeeper Stephanie Houghton look after a range of birds, and they are monitoring Webber's weight on a daily basis until he reaches his target of 2.75 kilograms.

Once the chick reaches this weight, he will be released back into the main group with the other penguins.

The baby was named after Australian Formula One driver Mark Webber - who competes for Milton Keynes based Red Bull.

He has webbed feet and shares a similar routine with his Australian namesake when it comes to having his weight checked.

Webber is the first-born chick of Whipsnade's popular Rockhopper couple Rita and Raef. Penguins generally mate for life, and this is the first time in three years that Rockhopper penguins have been bred in captivity.

The chick has certainly proven to be a handful for the Whipsnade gamekeepers, who feed him a diet of whole sprats three times a day in a bid to boost up his weight and supply him with essential vitamins and nutrients.

The Rockhopper currently resides in a specialised indoor penguin nursery, but will eventually be released into the two penguin pools on the site. With his adventurous nature, the young penguin will surely find himself at home when he eventually reaches his new surroundings.

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