Saturday, September 13, 2014

Like a Penguin to Water

12 September 2014

The first Penguin chick of the season was successfully promoted from the Penguin feeding school to the big pool at Wild Sea this morning. It didn’t take long for the chick to step out of the ‘pet pack’  carry box when it arrived at Wild Sea. The chick took a good look at the big pool and plunged right in! It didn’t join in the morning feeding session, but Wild Sea Manager Marcia Salverson says that once it has settled in a bit they expect it to join the group at afternoon feeding time.

The chick was hatched out in one of the breeding boxes at Wild Sea, but on July 23rd Keepers moved it to the Penguin feeding school area where they trained it to accept food from them instead of its parents. Keepers move them to Feeding School at about the time when parents in the wild would be winding up their care of the chicks, which would then go to sea to find their own fish. Learning to feed successfully from their Keepers is one of the two factors determining when the chick graduates from the feeding school.

There’s also the fluff factor: when the chicks are covered in fluffy down they aren’t waterproof, and their fluff can become wet and heavy, making it dangerous for them to swim. It was only after this chick lost its fluff that it was given a chance to practise its swim skills in the feeding school paddle pool.

There are now three younger chicks in the feeding school, all beginning to transfer their feeding response from their parents to their Keepers. There is another chick still in a nest at Wild Sea as well as seven more eggs being incubated by their parents.

Marcia Salverson comments that this has been a very successful breeding season, ‘we have 28 Penguins, most of which were born here. ‘In addition to the 23 Penguins born here, we have three that came to us as injured individuals that couldn’t be returned to the wild and two more that came from other zoos to increase the genetic diversity in the group.’


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