An African penguin chick has been nursed back to full health thanks to fish soup and dedicated zoo keepers.

The chick, had to be removed from its parents once keepers saw signs of illness and lack of appetite.

Since then, the professional staff at Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium, have been feeding the chick every 3 hours.

This includes morning feeds at 07:30 to late evening feeds at 7:30pm.

Of course being a Penguin, the only good on the menu is fish.

Initially this was blended into a liquid soup, but the chick has now moved over to solids.

Hatched Early September

The chick hatched in early September to proud Penguin parents Burt, and oddly named, New Ping.

Living Coasts Curator, Clare Rugg said:

It was sickly, so we decided to hand rear. We don’t know at this stage what caused the illness, but it seems to have recovered thanks to the hard work of the keeping team

Mum and Dad penguins are very important for the gene pool in zoo managed African penguins.

What this means is that the chick is important for the future of both the breeding programme and the species.

Extra workload

The extra workload of caring for the little bird was divided between the keeping team.

The team consisted of Head Keeper Lois Rowell, Jason Keller, Lisa Jones and Kayleigh Lovegrove.

The chick has been living in the zoo’s care building, which provides steady warmth.

A constant and comforting companion is a cuddly penguin toy.

Initial formula

Initially the penguin chick was given a formula of skinned herring fillets and supplements blended with water, delivered gently through a syringe.

From there the team weaned the chick onto skinned sprat fillets offered by tweezers.

From there the penguin is now consuming while sprats and sprat slices.

Inquisitive

Although the penguin chick is young they are incredibly inquisitive.

The penguin also loves to cuddle its penguin toy.

Staff suspect the penguin will turn into a character when he’s older and is mixed back into the colony.

However, before that can happen the penguin will need to go into a creche at about two months.

It is vital that the important youngster gets some English Riviera sunshine where it can.

Are there any tricks to rearing a penguin?

Clare said:

Patience, dedication – and not being put off by the smell of fish…

Living Coasts is home to 32 female African penguins and 31 males, plus the chick.

Penguins might be able to tell, but keeping the staff have to rely on a spot of science to distinguish the girls from the boys.

 

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