West Midland Safari Park’s keepers are getting in a flap about some cute new arrivals in the Park’s Penguin Cove.
Two fluffy, grey Humboldt penguin chicks have started to emerge from their nests and are beginning to explore their new home, under the watchful eyes of their parents – pairs Elm and Elder and Ash and Juniper.
At just five and seven weeks old, the chicks’ protective parents allowed keepers to weigh the chicks and give them a quick health check, confirming that both pairs of parents are doing a great job at rearing the youngsters.
All babies born at the Park during 2019 have to have names beginning with the letter ‘H’ and the penguin keepers take the naming strategy one step further, by using a theme too. This year keepers have gone for a food theme and have lovingly named the chicks ‘Hotdog’ and ‘Haggis’.
Head Keeper of the Discovery Trail, Amy Sewell, said, “We have a colony of 19 adult Humboldt penguins at West Midland Safari Park, which are involved in a European Breeding Programme. These penguins are ‘vulnerable’ in the wild, with numbers as low as 12,000 – just 4,000 breeding pairs.
“With these numbers in mind, we were very excited that on 1 May first time parents, Elder and Elm, successfully had their first chick. Both parents are doing really well and share care of little Hotdog. Hotdog is already starting to leave the nest, so guests might be lucky enough to see him/her when they visit Penguin Cove.”
She continued, “Two weeks later, on 12 May, we were thrilled to find that another couple, Juniper and Ash, had become parents to a chick we have named ‘Haggis’. Haggis is remaining in the nest for now, but both chicks are doing really well and this breeding effort will go towards safeguarding the future survival of the Humboldt penguin.”
In the wild, Humboldt penguins inhabit the coasts of Peru and Chile and dig burrows into the sand or find small caves and crevices in which to lay their eggs. They also use their droppings to make their nests, which is more commonly known as ‘guano’.
Unfortunately, wild Humboldt penguin numbers are declining, due to overfishing of the penguins’ prey, risk of being caught in fishing nets, severe weather and climate change, plus historical decline from humans harvesting guano and their eggs.
The penguins first arrived at the Park in 2012, from zoos in the UK and Germany. The two chicks bring the number of Humboldt penguins at the Park to 21.
The penguins can be seen in Penguin Cove, located in the Discovery Trail, which is included in the group admission charge of £11.00 for adults, £10.00 for children aged 3-15 and £10.50 for concessions based on ten or more paying passengers arriving by coach or mini bus. Children under the age of 3 are free. Adventure Theme Park rides are charged extra.
Further information and tickets are available from the Park’s website www.wmsp.co.uk or by telephone 01299 402114. Find out more on the Safari Park’s official Facebook page: www.facebook.com/WestMidSafari.