RZSS Edinburgh Zoo had a successful breeding season this year and welcomed 19 gentoo chicks and one northern rockhopper chick to its Penguin Rock enclosure.
Penguin breeding season, which began in March, is now coming to a close and these once tiny chicks are now growing into adorably fluffy youngsters. The first gentoo chicks hatched on 7 May with a northern rockhopper chick a special arrival on 25 April, 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.”
Gentoo penguins numbers have been falling with reasons for their decline including increased illegal egg collection and oil exploration around the Falkland Islands, as well as disturbance from tourism which has interfered with their breeding productivity.
Penguins were one of the first species to arrive at Edinburgh Zoo when it opened to the public over 100 years ago. The zoo has the largest outdoor penguin pool in Europe and was the first outside the southern hemisphere to breed king penguins.
Edinburgh Zoo is also world-famous for its daily Penguin Parade which began in 1951 when a keeper accidentally left the gate open and let the penguins out for a short walk before they returned. Keepers still open the gate every day at 2.15pm allowing the birds who want to take part to go for a short walk outside their enclosure.
To find out more about visiting Edinburgh Zoo go to http://www.edinburghzoo.org