Spring is in the air and the team at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo have been busy preparing for the start of the annual gentoo penguin breeding season by placing nest rings and pebbles into the Penguin Rock enclosure.
It’s a noisy and lively time for the zoo as the penguins woo their mates by selecting perfectly smooth and shiny pebbles, much like an engagement ring, to present to their intended. They may occasionally spot a better looking pebble in a neighbour’s nest, however, and decide to take it for their own, causing a few ruffled feathers!
Once the penguins have successfully found a mate and filled their nest with the best looking pebbles, the first eggs will start to appear in April, followed by the first chicks who will hatch a month later in May.
Penguin parents will happily share incubation and parenting duties until the chicks are around three to four months old. After this, the youngsters will leave the nest and join a large crèche with other chicks to learn essential skills such as how to swim and feed.
Dawn Nicoll, Senior Penguin Keeper at RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Penguin breeding season is one of our busiest times here at Edinburgh Zoo and one of the most exciting. After placing the nests and pebbles in Penguins Rock, it is fantastic to watch the gentoos pick out their favourite stone, find their mate and choose a nest together. It is quite common for gentoos to return to the same nest they have used year after year.”
Penguin fans can keep up to date with all the gentoo nesting and pebble picking activity by viewing the RZSS Edinburgh Zoo penguin cam here: