A pair of threatened Humboldt penguin chicks have hatched at a UK zoo providing a “vital contribution” to the European breeding programme for the species.
The youngsters, who have not yet been named, are the first successful breeding of the South American bird at Marwell Zoo in Hampshire since 2015, with more eggs expected to hatch later in the month.
The eggs are from parents Lucy and Buddy but to ensure the wellbeing of both chicks, one is being fostered by another pair, Billy and Jupiter.
A zoo spokeswoman said: “Both sets of new mothers and fathers are involved in the incubation and rearing of the chicks, who will not leave the nest for around eight weeks.
“For the first few weeks, zookeepers leave the parents to nurture their young, only opening the nest box to feed.
“They will carry out health and development checks at around four weeks old.”
Senior birdkeeper Jess Borer said: “They are all doing really well and we’re all really excited.
“We like to be very hands off to make sure the parents are relaxed so we can only hear them cheeping or catch a glimpse when we give the parents extra fish in their nest box and the adult stands to feed.
“The parents take it in turns to feed and the penguins semi-digest the fish before regurgitating it for their chick.”
Marwell Zoo is currently in lockdown and has launched a fundraising appeal to help pay for the care of the 140 species it looks after in the absence of revenue from the 500,000 visitors it normally sees each year. For details visit www.marwell.org.uk/supportus.