Wednesday, August 2, 2017

19 Zoo-per additions at Penguins Rock

Photo credit RZSS

19 Zoo-per additions at Penguins Rock

Penguins Rock at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo is now home to 19 gentoo chicks and one northern rockhopper chick as breeding season comes to a close. These once tiny chicks are now growing into adorably fluffy youngsters.

Penguin breeding season began in early March, with the annual placing of the nest rings and pebbles into Penguins Rock, before the male penguins sought out the best looking and smoothest pebbles to ‘propose’ to their potential mates. The first gentoo chicks hatched on 7 May and a special arrival of a northern rockhopper chick on 25 April was just in time for World Penguin Day.

Dawn Nicoll, Penguin Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “This is our favourite time of year as the new penguin chicks are moved into the crèche. The entire breeding season is an incredibly busy time, but it is all worth it when you see them grow and learn all the skills essential to being a penguin, such as how to swim and feed.

“We had a very successful breeding season and are really pleased to have had 19 chicks, particularly as gentoo penguins are classified as near threatened in the wild. It’s really nice to see all 20 of our chicks learning the ropes together as the gentoos join our northern rockhopper chick in the crèche area of Penguins Rock.”

Due to the decline in their populations, gentoo penguins are listed as near threatened on the IUCN Red List. Reasons for their decline include increased illegal egg collection and oil exploration around the Falkland Islands, as well as disturbance from tourism which is leading to decreased breeding productivity.

Penguins have been an integral part of RZSS Edinburgh Zoo for over 100 years and the Zoo has the largest outdoor penguin pool in Europe. They were one of the first species that arrived and the Zoo and the Society became world-renowned when they were the first outside the southern hemisphere to breed king penguins.

The world-famous daily Penguin Parade began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the gate open and the penguins went for a short walk and then returned to their enclosure – keepers still open the gate every day at 2.15pm and birds who voluntarily want to take part go for a short walk outside their enclosure.

For all the latest from Penguins Rock, visit our dedicated penguin webcam:

Peter Dickinson
Independent International Zoo Consultant

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