Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Whipsnade Zoo welcomes rockhopper #penguins

Keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo have been welcoming seven rockhopper penguins to their new home in Bedfordshire, by throwing them a housewarming party with a difference. A hamper of fish was made by zoo keepers, and presented to the little penguin newcomers to help christen their new digs.

Rockhopper penguin - welcome basket

The Northern rockhopper penguins have joined ZSL Whipsnade Zoo from Vienna, as part of the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme (EEP). Since their arrival at the beginning of January, the ‘magnificent seven’ have gradually started to explore their rocky home and pool on the side of the Dunstable Downs.

Senior Keeper Emily Merrick said: “There are only a couple of other places in the UK where you can see Northern rockhoppers, so it’s wonderful to have these seven little wonders of the world join us here at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo.

Young rockhopper penguins

“They’re all very young, in fact, some only hatched last year and aren’t showing their distinctive yellow crests yet. In a few years though, they’ll be ready to play their part in the European Endangered Species Breeding Programme, which is great because there has been a very rapid decline in numbers of Northern rockhopper penguins over the last 30 years.

“They’ve all got different personalities. We’ve already noticed a sort-of pack-leader, who is always the first into the water, another that is always first in line for fish, and another, who we’re calling Black-spot, who always stays on the edge of the pool, dipping his feet in but refusing to join the other penguins for a swim. Half-term visitors should have fun watching them explore their new surroundings.”


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