The first new baby chick arrived at The Deep on 14 June to parents Brian and Diane. Shortly after laying her eggs, Diane vacated the nest and paired with another penguin, so the decision was made to foster the egg out to experienced parents Nessie and Shackleton. This chick weighed just 90 grams at birth, but has grown to a whopping 2kg since its arrival.
Diane subsequently paired with Rapha, resulting in a further chick being born on 11 July. The second chick weighed 90 grams and is being cared for in the nest by the parents. The parents are taking turns feeding the juvenile, who in just four days has grown to 176 grams. Penguin eggs hatch after a 34-37 day incubation period.
The Deeps experienced team of Aquarists are keeping close eye on the chicks’ development, carrying out regular weight and health checks to ensure the parents are doing their job properly.
Ben Jones Curator at The Deep said: “This is a very exciting, but nervous time for us. Just like any new parents, raising offspring is a challenge, so we will be keeping a close eye on them to make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible.
“We are letting the parents take the lead in terms of feeding the juveniles and will only intervene if we have any concerns. At this stage, the chicks continue to grow at a rapid rate, until they reach full size at approximately three months.
“Gentoo’s have proven to be very maternal parents so we are excited to see them develop over the coming months.”
The chicks remain in the nest for first month underneath the parents. As time goes on, the parents start to move off the nest for short periods of time but still come back to feed. After three months have passed the chick fledges the nest after moulting their soft downy feathers. At this time, they will grow their waterproof feathers and will be able to swim, become independent and no longer rely on the parents for food.
Following this moult, the keepers will be able to determine the sex of the chick from the DNA of their feathers.
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