SEA LIFE London Aquarium has confirmed the pitter-patter of tiny Gentoo penguin feet with not one, but two hatchlings born following an egg-citing nesting season during lockdown.
The chicks are the only Gentoo penguins which have successfully bred in England this year.
Proud parents Ripley and Elton, who originally laid the two eggs, are now rearing one penguin chick - which weighed 105g on hatching - whilst the second chick, which weighed in at 98g (about the weight of a large orange), has been adopted by long-term pair Max and Snork.
Both couples are navigating the challenges of becoming parents for the first time under the watchful eye of the animal care team, who are monitoring their growth and weight gain to ensure peak penguin performance.
Although the sex of the new chicks will not be known until later in the year - so naming them is currently on hold - they are settling in well with the rest of the Gentoo colony, which also includes same sex couple Marama and Rocky, who adopted a penguin chick called Ziggy back in 2019.
“It’s incredibly special to have not just one, but two new chicks to have successfully hatched at the London Aquarium proving lockdown love also existed in our Gentoo penguin colony. We can’t wait to see the hatchlings grow and develop under the watchful eyes of their proud parents Ripley and Elton and Max and Snork. The continued success of our Gentoo breeding programme here at SEA LIFE London Aquarium is down to the fantastic work of our expert animal care team and we can’t wait for our guests to meet the new chicks for themselves.”Catherine Pritchard General Manager, SEA LIFE London Aquarium
The hatching process began in May, when the first chick began pipping (the first point where a chick breaks through an egg). This was then the cue for the second egg to begin the same process. Whilst the two eggs were laid at different times, the second egg quickly caught up as it heard the activity of the first egg and responded. This enabled them to hatch at a similar time.
The newest members to SEA LIFE London Aquarium’s colony of Gentoo penguins are the latest chicks to be born at the attraction in recent years. The successful breeding is due in part to the strong European collaborative conservation programme that the London Aquarium is involved with.
Gentoo penguins are great ambassadors for all wildlife found on the Antarctic Peninsula, a location which is under great threat from climate change, microplastic pollution and the negative effects of human activity.
Gentoo penguins are just one of the fantastic marine creatures that can be seen at SEA LIFE London Aquarium, including dwarf crocodiles, nurse sharks and sea turtles. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the tiny new chicks at the attraction’s Penguin Point, inside Polar Adventure.
SEA LIFE London, situated on the South Bank, is open seven days a week. For the latest opening times, feeding times, prices and more, see www.visitsealife.com/london.