CALGARY — Officials at the Calgary Zoo are celebrating the debut of a Humboldt penguin chick as part of the facility's breeding program.
Humboldt penguins are listed as vulnerable by the International Union of Conservation of Nature, so zoo officials say the hatching of the little seabird helps to safeguard the species from extinction.
The chick was hatched on June 26 and has spent the first month of his life in the burrow close to his parents, Reina and Javier.
Dr. Malu Celli, curator at the Calgary Zoo, says it's the first chick for the mother penguin, who is quite young.
Celli says it's a good sign that Reina has settled in well enough at the zoo to have picked a mate, built a nest, laid an egg and successfully incubated the chick.
The zoo says one Humboldt egg was laid in the past but it was infertile.
The chick is staying in his burrow for now, and his parents are taking turns caring for him.
"They're very protective so it took us a while to get our first glimpse of the little one,'' says Celli.
"They're feeding it tons, taking turns, fifty-fifty, so dad is doing a great job, too. The chick is growing strength to strength every day so hopefully when he fledges everybody will be able to see him.''
Celli says it's a significant day at the zoo.
"When these kinds of births occur it assures us we are getting one step closer to helping save important species,'' she says.
"We haven't had a ton of nests and a ton of eggs but it's how it's supposed to be. It's a very young colony, none of them have been parents before, so it's a learning process for them but all the right steps are there.
"We have no reason to believe that we won't continue to be successful in the future.''