Thursday, July 16, 2015

Penguin chick overcomes water fear with swimming lessons

  • 14 July 2015

"Scared" and refusing to "go near the water", keepers decided to stand the young chick on a rock in the middle of the penguin pool

A penguin chick "terrified" of water after falling into a Gloucestershire penguin pool, has been taught to swim.
The 10-month-old king penguin was so "panicked" by the water at Bourton-on-the-Water's Birdland that keepers had to give it a month of swimming lessons.
The hand-reared chick was carried across to a rock in the middle of the penguin pool and encouraged to leap in.
Keeper Alistair Keen, said the chick was "absolutely terrified" initially but was slowly becoming more confident.
The king penguin chick, named Charlotte, is the first of its kind to be born at Birdland since 2009.
Hand-reared by head keeper Mr Keen, it was introduced back to the colony a few months ago but after slipping and falling into the penguin pool, the chick developed a phobia of water.
"Initially Charlotte was absolutely terrified at the prospect of getting her feathers wet," said Mr Keen.
"I know penguins can't fly but she was making a pretty good attempt in her bid to avoid taking the plunge.
"In the wild the chicks only learn to swim by following their parents in to the water so I, as her adopted dad, felt obliged to get in and try and show her how it was done."

'Duck to water'

Wearing a wetsuit, snorkel and mask, Mr Keen spent a month in the penguin pool giving the young chick daily one-on-one swimming lessons.
"At first it didn't seem like she was ever going to get the hang of it," he said.
"But now, although I certainly wouldn't say that she's taken to it like a duck to water, she is gradually getting more and more comfortable in the pool."
Birdland Park and Gardens in the Cotswolds has the only colony of king penguins in the country and is the only site to breed the species.


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