New Humboldt penguin chicks kick off World Cup fever
Happy feet! Two-day-old Rooney, one of Chester Zoo’s new baby Humboldt penguins, is weighed to check on his development. Keepers are naming this year’s new-borns after past and present superstars of the football World Cup.
Chester Zoo’s latest arrival is a real striker – and has a name to match.
Weighing just 87g, baby chick Rooney (named after England forward Wayne) is one of the first Humboldt penguins to hatch at the zoo this year.
Given that the baby was already doing well the only real headache for keepers was what to call their new charge – and the others due to hatch after him.
Last year’s clutch were named after characters from the hit TV show Dr Who - this year they are named after past and present superstars of the football World Cup.
Rooney has already been joined by Gerrard (after current England captain Steven), Banks (after 1966 World Cup winning goalkeeper Gordon) and Moore (after 1966 World Cup winning captain Bobby).
Lead penguin keeper Karen Neech said:
“Choosing names for the chicks is always a poser but with one eye on the World Cup we decided to kick off this year’s football campaign with some stars of our own.
“Footballers have very strict diets and things are just the same for our new arrivals. But whereas footballers can look forward to a protein shake ours grow strong on a diet of regurgitated ‘fish smoothie’ provided by their parents.”
The penguins are an endangered South American species, which come from the coastal areas of Peru and Chile. The new arrivals mean the zoo now has a colony of over 35.
Each pair lays two eggs and will incubate them for 40 days up to hatching. Both parents are then involved in incubating and rearing the young.
Once the chicks fledge after about eight weeks they will leave the nest and begin toddler training in the zoo’s special penguin crèche, with the end goal seeing the chicks join their parents in the main pool.
Chester Zoo funds conservation initiatives in the penguins’ homeland to help them in their natural habitat, where they are faced with many pressures including over fishing of their food and habitat loss.
Rooney, one of Chester Zoo’s new baby Humboldt penguins, is weighed to check on his development. Keepers are naming this year’s new-borns after football World Cup legends.
Rooney is held aloft by his keeping fans at Chester Zoo.
Mum Opal keeps an eye on Rooney while he is being weighed.
Egg-cellent score! Another baby chick goes for a header as it makes its way out.
Humboldt penguin facts
• This South American penguin is named after the chilly Humboldt current, along which it commonly swims
• In the wild, Humboldt penguins are vulnerable to disturbances in their food chain caused by strong El Nino currents
• Humboldt penguins are social animals, living in relatively large colonies of closely spaced burrows
• Humboldt penguins ‘fly’ through the water at speeds of up to 25mph
• They enjoy a diet of small fish (anchovies, herring, smelt) and crustaceans
• Of the world’s 17 penguin species, Humboldts are among the most at risk, with the species classed as vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)
• Rooney’s parents are called Kingfisher and Opal (named after birds and sweets)