Belfast Zoo welcomes eight tiny penguin chicks
Meet Belfast Zoo's newest adorable residents - newly hatched gentoo penguin chicks.
Eight penguin chicks have hatched over the last week and they are bound to get zoo visitors in a flap.
Belfast Zoo's senior keeper Raymond Robinson, said the penguin breeding season started way back in February and staff have been busy working to help.
"Around that time every year, we install nest rings for the penguins," he said.
"The male gentoo penguins then set to work to fill the nests with pebbles and stones.
"The nests are so prized by females that often male penguins can obtain a mate by offering the female a nice pebble.
"The female can lay up to two eggs which are then incubated by the male and female birds for approximately 30 to 40 days. In recent weeks, with the warm weather, keepers have also had to install umbrellas and sprinklers into the enclosure to protect the parents and the eggs from the heat and we are delighted to welcome the first chicks of the year."
There are 17 species of penguin in the world and Belfast Zoo is home to two - gentoo and rockhopper penguins.
All penguins are found in the Southern hemisphere. While gentoos are found in the Antarctic, they can also be found in the warmer climates of the Falklands, South Gerogia, Kerguelen, Marion, Macquarie and other remote islands. All penguin species face increasing threats from marine pollution, habitat loss, global warming and over-fishing.
Raymond said penguins are among the most popular of the Zoo's residents with visitors.
"We have no doubt that our latest arrivals will be a firm favourite with zoo visitors. Penguins are one of the most popular species at Belfast Zoo, especially the underwater viewing area where visitors can admire their swimming skills," he said.
"If you are potty about penguins, you can now get closer than ever before with our new animal experiences."
You can find out more information or book your experience by calling 028 9077 6277 or email email@example.com.”
A full schedule of feeding times will be taking place daily. Call by the penguin enclosure at 2.30pm to see the penguins enjoying their "fish suppers" and to see the little chicks.