Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Keepers help hatch penguin chick

Keepers had to assist the birth of a Humboldt penguin.

Zoo staff had to help a rare Humboldt penguin to hatch after it became stuck inside its shell.

The chick, which was born at Drusillas Park, Alfriston, East Sussex, is almost two weeks old and is doing well alongside parents Marble and Reef.

But in order to help him break out of the egg the zoo team was required to step in.

Keepers noticed the new arrival had created a small hole in the shell one evening but it was not until the following afternoon that the chick finally broke free.

Deputy head keeper Jason O'Connell said: "Hatching can be a difficult time and it can take a while depending on the chick's own strength.

"In the case of our new Humboldt chick, the shell membrane had become dry over time making the whole process a lot more difficult.

"We therefore helped the chick along its way by moistening the shell and making the hole it had already created a tiny bit bigger.

"The chick is doing really well now and we are pleased with his progress.

"He will be cared for by his parents within the safety of the nest box over the next few weeks, before finally waddling out onto the beach in time for summer."

Humboldt penguins hatch after about 40 days with greyish downy feathers.

Both parents work together to feed and care for their young and the chicks leave the nest at around 10 to 12 weeks, a zoo spokeswoman said.

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