Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Egg-cellent news! First baby penguin expected at The Deep

By Hull Daily Mail  |  Posted: May 09, 2016

PARENTS TO BE: Nessie and Shackleton are looking after their egg at The Deep

It looks as though penguin chicks could soon be hatching at The Deep after the first egg was laid at the aquarium today.

Excited staff discovered the egg this morning, a weeks after long-term couple Nessie and Shackleton were seen getting close and lovingly making a nest together.

Graham Hill, science officer at The Deep, said: "It's a lovely surprise. We've been monitoring the mating but we didn't expect it to happen this quickly.

"The pair have been spending a lot of time together over the last few months but only began showing signs of mating a couple of weeks ago.

"During the courtship, they pair up and greet each other with a kind of head bang. They then stay together and choose an area which they think is safe and an appropriate place to nest.

"It's very difficult to know the time between when they do mate and laying an egg."

Nessie and Shackleton arrived at The Deep from Calgary Zoo in Alberta, Canada, two years ago.
Last week, the couple began 'nesting' which involves building a mound or 'nest' out of pebbles.

The pair will now spend the next 30 to 35 days rearing the egg, which is the size of a tennis ball. This will involve taking it in turns to sit on the nest and incubate it.

Mr Hill said: "They will shuffle around in order to rotate the egg and keep it warm which is needed for the embryo to develop."

While there is excitement among staff, Nessie and Shackleton's little one, which is expected to hatch in June, is not out of the woods just yet.

"We can't guarantee what will happen at the moment but all the signs are that they are dealing with the egg very well," said Mr Hill.

"At the moment it looks like they are going to make very good parents."

The aquarium is also home another penguin couple but they have not yet taken their relationship to the next level.

Mr Hill said: "Our other couple have been together for a long time but haven't shown any signs of mating."


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