Sunday, April 21, 2013

Bickering King Penguin cousins Nepture and Wallace like to face off

King Penguin chicks
The King Penguin chicks hatched at Melbourne Aquarium are now growing up. Wallace is now just over 3 months and is huge compared to his cousin Neptune who is only 2.5 months old. Picture: Jay Town 
King Penguin chicks
King Penguin chick, Neptune with mum, Ernie at the Melbourne Aquarium. Picture: Jay Town 
THESE penguins might looks like chilled out chicks but Neptune and its older cousin, Wallace, become a couple of angry birds when they face off.
The pair share a unique bond as the only King Penguins born in Australia.
But you wouldn't know it when Wallace snaps and flaps its weight around its half-sized cousin, with parents from both sides often waddling in to break the ice.
"They'll get used to each other eventually, they're just being a bit defensive,'' Melbourne Aquarium Bird Manager Sarina Walsh said.
"Wallace is very demanding, which is why it's squawking all the time, and Neptune is just so chilled out.''
And don't be fooled by their fluffy features: Neptune may soon size-up to its rotund rival, with aquarium keepers predicting it will double its 6.6kg weight in less than a month.
Born on January 23, just 23 days before its featherweight friend, Wallace is already a whopping 12.3kg.
The chicks are stacking on 10 per cent of their body weight every day as they are hand-fed three super servings of fish, as well as having their doting parents on call for a top-up.
"Their parents are eating double what they usually would at the moment. We're feeding them every hour so they have enough to give their chicks,'' Ms Walsh said.
But with dad Blake being the big bird of the flock, Wallace's bulky build could be all in the family.
And while aquarium staff have named Neptune the king of the sea, it could very well be crowned a queen, with both chicks' genders yet to be revealed until their adult feathers fledge at about 10 months of age.
"We can take a blood sample to find out but a feather sample is much less invasive, and we're not in a hurry to find out,'' Ms Walsh said.


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