Sunday, January 24, 2016

Penguin Chick Gets Hatching Help

Pingwin przyl_dkowy 6 Sometimes baby animals need a little help, and that’s exactly what an about-to-hatch African Penguin received at Poland’s Zoo Wroclaw on December 28.

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Photo Credit:  Zoo Wroclaw

The Penguin chick, named Janush by keepers, was positioned abnormally inside his egg.  With his head underneath his wing, Janush was unable to turn and push his way out of the egg.  To assist the little chick, keepers removed the egg from the nest and gently extricated Janush from the shell.

Once they knew the tiny chick was stable, keepers tried to place Janush back in the nest with his parents.  Unfortunately, mom and dad were tending another chick that had hatched earlier in the day.  Penguin parents can be quite aggressive when defending their chicks, and keepers were unable to place Janush back in the nest.

So, keepers took over as Janush’s parents during the first critical days of his life.  Because the chick was still absorbing nutrients from his yolk sac, there was no need to feed him right away, but controlling the temperature was important.  Janush moved to a well-ventilated incubator where he could stay warm.

The next day, keepers began feeding Janush a “milk shake” made from chopped fish and vitamins via a syringe.  Fortunately Janush has a good appetite and doubled his weight in the first week.  He feeds four times a day, and at night he snuggles beside a plush toy in his incubator.  In the morning Janush greets his keepers with loud squeaks to let them know he’s hungry.

In the wild, African Penguins are native to South Africa’s coast and nearby islands.  Because people have harvested so many fish from these waters, there is little left to sustain the Penguin population and the species is listed as Endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.  Oil spills have affected the population, and guano mining disturbs nesting sites.  Breeding programs in zoos around the world are an important part of efforts to save African Penguins.


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