The first king penguin chick to hatch in the Middle East has died. The chick was nine-and-a-half-weeks old when it passed away on Saturday, April 25 about 11pm at Ski Dubai’s penguin habitat.
Tom Scheffer, general manager of Ski Dubai, told 7DAYS: “The staff on duty discovered the baby penguin lying down with stiff hind legs, which they felt was unusual behaviour.”
“After checking for vital signs, they immediately contacted our Ski Dubai veterinary surgeon, as well as the head trainer, and tried basic resuscitation, which is notoriously challenging to give on a penguin. Unfortunately the penguin quickly deteriorated and died shortly after.”
The cause of death is not yet known. But Scheffer said further tests are being conducted to learn more about what happened as part of Ski Dubai’s ongoing multi-generation breeding programme.
The baby hatched on February 17 to six-year-old mother Bubbles and father Wall-E, who is four. This was their first chick.
The parents had taken turns incubating the egg inside the penguin habitat and both fed the chick after it was born. “Both Wall-E and Bubbles were there when the baby passed,” Scheffer said. “They showed no obvious reaction and as it was late at night, the lights went out shortly afterwards. The reaction from Bubbles and Wall-E has been positive in that they are both displaying their normal behaviours and aren’t showing any signs of distress.” The baby did not have a name and its gender had not yet been determined.
Scheffer said the facility was planning to host a ‘naming competition’ but the name had not been chosen. The manager said the Ski Dubai team is devastated but added the birth of the chick could still be considered a success. “As this was our first, we felt a mixture of both pride and accomplishment. Every day of its short life was special to us. The whole penguin team were also ‘parents’ and our sense of loss cannot be described.”