Eating fish and swimming around come naturally to our Humboldt penguin chicks. But to make sure they are getting the best possible diet and are comfortable and confident in their surroundings, our keepers are currently giving the chicks some one-on-one attention behind the scenes before they join the adults out on exhibit.
The two oldest chicks, hatched April Fool’s Day and Easter Sunday, have lost their downy feathers and now have waterproof feathers for swimming. To get them used to being in water, the chicks have round-the-clock access to a shallow pool behind the scenes at the exhibit, where they can practice floating and swimming.
And while eating is no problem for these chicks, they do now have to learn how to accept fish directly from their keepers like all the adult penguins do. Hand feeding is especially useful because it allows the keepers to keep track of just how much each bird is eating as well as ensuring that each individual receives their vitamin supplement.
With a little more training and practice, the two oldest chicks should be ready to join the adults on exhibit in late June. They’ll be fairly large but you’ll be able to distinguish them from the adults by their lighter, more grayish plumage. The three youngest chicks are just about to start their training next!
Photos by Hannah Letinich/Woodland Park Zoo.