A new addition to the Humboldt Penguin Rookery
New chick joins the colony
There’s been a new addition to the Humboldt penguin colony at the Park, and it’s a baby chick! Already parents to Avocado, Guacamole and Olive, mum Salsa and dad Leaf have welcomed their fourth chick.
Eight-year-old mum and twelve-year-old dad have both been very attentive and good parents. Since the baby’s arrival in June, the parents have been protective of their nest ensuring the chicks safety. This means no other penguin has been allowed in and they take it in turns to pop down to the pool for a feed or swim. Penguins love to dig their own burrows in the bank and make it as cosy as possible. To do so, they use their guano (poo), leaves, twigs and pebbles.
With penguins, it is normal for the chicks to stay in for about three to four months before starting to venture out of the burrow and interact with other members of the rookery and keepers. The yet unsexed baby has started to come out the nest but is still very shy, staying close to mum and dad while getting used to Penguin World in the Foot Safari.
Penguins are fairly social animals and like to gather. Once they choose a mate, these two tend to socialise amongst themselves and hopefully start breeding. It hasn’t yet been decided whether or not the chick will stay at the Park, as part of the European breeding programme the keepers at Woburn might decide it is best for the chick to move to a different collection. For many species, such as the Humboldt penguin which is classed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List, captive breeding programmes are very important since they help prevent extinction.
Salsa and Leaf take the lead
Keepers maintaining a hands off approach and let the parents take the lead, so they are not sure on baby’s weight. As newborns, penguins hatch around the size of a hamster weighing about 20g and grow up to on average 65cm in length and 4kg by the age of three or four.
At the Park, the penguins are mainly fed on a small fish called sprat but they will typically eat anything up to one third of their body size! To make sure they stay healthy, they also get a fish-eater tablet which contains vital nutrients needed as part of their diet. In addition, they have half a slow sodium tablet which help keeps their body salt at a good level.
As the new baby starts to wander down to the pool, keepers will be able to keep a close eye on the chick’s health and start hand feeding. In the meantime, Salsa and Leaf will regularly do thorough health checks on their chick.
Animal keeper, Sarah Green, said: “We love having chicks at the Park and look forward to seeing the baby grow up and learn new life skills such as swimming and feeding, and eventually nest building and sitting on eggs. For the future, we hope that this chick will find a partner and go on to have young of their own”.