21 Apr 2011

The penguins are an endangered South American species, which naturally live on the coastal areas of Peru and Chile.

Each pair of penguins lays two eggs and will incubate them for 40 days up to hatching. Both parents are involved in incubation and rearing the young.

Keeper Karen Neech said: “It will be around eight weeks before the juveniles leave the nests, so we are keeping a close eye on their development.

“So far we have had 10 chicks hatch so things are incredibly busy for us and the adult penguins. There is so much more food required with all these extra mouths to feed.

“We provide the fish and the parents turn this into a high-protein soup to feed to the chicks, so it really is a combined effort.”

The chicks will be named with a British tree theme, in recognition of the Year of the Forest campaign set up by the United Nations to raise awareness of conservation issues.

The first to hatch was given the name Acorn and the last to hatch will be given the name Oak.

The new arrivals mean the zoo now has a colony of more than 50 Humboldt penguins. Chester Zoo also 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.