25 Aug 2023

Two adorable Humboldt penguin chicks have taken their first swimming lessons at the zoo!

Having hatched a little earlier in the year, the chicks have naturally shed their fuzzy grey baby feathers and embarked on a new adventure – swimming lessons with the zoo’s 45-strong adult colony.

In a bid to raise more awareness of the iconic birds, our conservationists have chosen to pay homage to one of their favourite local football teams and named the duo after Wrexham AFC’s owners, Ryan Reynolds and Rob McElhenney.

Humboldt penguins are native to the coasts of Chile and Peru in South America and are known for their charismatic personalities and unique black and white markings.

“Our team enjoy choosing a different theme for naming the chicks to help raise some much needed attention for the species. We’ve previously had brands of crisps, chocolate bars and types of fruit. This year we decided to name the two new male arrivals after Wrexham’s Hollywood owners Ryan (Reynolds) and Rob (McElhenney). They’re both so full of personality and charisma – so it seemed rather fitting. Their diving skills are already spot on.”

Zoe Sweetman, Team Manager of Penguins and Parrots

Zoe continued to say:

“While it’s a lot of fun, there’s also a serious message behind it too. We hope we can help spread some much needed awareness about the importance of wildlife conservation and inspire more people to take small, daily steps in playing an active role in protecting the future of species like the Humboldt penguin. Some very simple things we can all do are using less single-use plastics, eating sustainably caught fish, and reducing energy use. Even if it’s just a little it all contributes to the warming of the seas.”

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) classifies the Humboldt penguin as “Vulnerable” on its Red List of Threatened Species. The key factors contributing to their decline include overfishing, habitat destruction and pollution, as well as climate change. Additionally, human encroachment on their nesting sites disrupts their colonies, putting further pressure on the species.

Here at Chester Zoo, we play a crucial role in the conservation and protection of endangered species like the Humboldt penguin through our breeding programmes and work other major conservation zoos across the globe.

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