Living Coasts are well known for total cuteness when it comes to the birth of baby penguins, birds and other species.
This month the keepers at Living Coast have gone one step further and have successfully taught a penguin chick its own language by playing the chick recordings of adult birds.
The success came after the chick was played digital recordings of the zoo’s colony of African penguins during feeding times while the chick is being hand-reared away from the other birds.
Jason Keller, Senior Keeper at Living Coasts said:
We want this chick to grow up as a penguin and not think of itself as a human. Inevitably, hand-reared birds become imprinted – they respond to the keepers as if they are their parents. Penguins tend to lose this imprinting when they reach breeding age, but youngsters can be mischievous and disruptive in the meantime.”
With the penguin chick now able to speak, or should that be cheep, its language, the chick will be able to forge an association between penguin noise and food.
Essentially the keepers at Living Coasts are teaching the chick to speak penguin.
A different approach
When it comes to hand rearing a penguin chick, Living Coasts use a variety of techniques, however, Jason is trying something slightly different.
With fewer feeds and less human contact the penguin chick is able to get a more natural start in life.
The concept of playing live bird sounds of adult birds to chicks has been tried with other species, though there is no conclusive evidence that it even works.
In total Living Coasts is home to some 12 macaroni penguins and 65 African penguins. It is thought that the youngster will join the colony in a matter of weeks.