Meet Australia’s coolest new family this long weekend!
Keepers and staff are jumping for joy as they continue to make history with the arrival of Australia’s first sub-Antarctic King Penguin chick, confirming Melbourne Aquarium as a leader amongst aquaria throughout the world.
The King Penguin chick was born in the early hours of 23 January, weighing approximately 200 grams, to parents Billy (female) and Blake.
Mum and Dad are fussing over their newborn to make sure it stays warm and secure, with many of the other penguins in the exhibit curious about the newcomer.
Keepers are thrilled with the new arrival, but also cautious as the first few days in a chick’s life are critical.
“The chick is being monitored around the clock by penguin keepers and Aquarium Vet Dr Job Jones to ensure everything is done to help it through this critical time,” said Bird Manager, Sarina Walsh.
“To further protect the newborn, we have sectioned off the parents and the chick from the other penguins in the exhibit. Once the chick has grown and we’re confident that the other penguins will accept it, we will slowly integrate the new family into the exhibit.”
Melbourne Aquarium Expertise
“King Penguins are notoriously difficult to breed in an Aquarium, as it is difficult to replicate the natural environment. The successful arrival of this little chick is a true testament of the dedication and passion of Melbourne Aquarium staff,” said Aquarium Vet, Dr Rob Jones.
“It is also a direct result of the health, welfare and comfort of the penguins in the state-of-the-art Antarctica exhibit. We’re extremely proud to share this incredible moment with visitors to Melbourne Aquarium.”
Unlike their smaller Gentoo Penguin friends, King Penguins do not have a nest; they incubate the egg on their feet. The egg sits inside the brood patch, an area of skin on the parent’s lower abdomen that covers the egg to keep it warm.
More Chicks on the Way?
After the incubation period, generally lasting up to 55 days, King Penguin chicks start pipping through their egg with a ‘pipping tooth’, hatching anywhere from 24 to 48 hours later. After this time, they spend several days staying warm underneath their parents until they are large enough to regulate their own body temperature.
With several King penguin pairs still sitting on eggs, keepers are hopeful of the arrival of more chicks in the coming weeks.
The successful King Penguin breeding program joins the Gentoo penguin and the Weedy Seadragon breeding programs, both amongst the most successful in the world.
Melbourne Aquarium visitors can catch a glimpse of the proud family on the ice in the Antarctica exhibit.
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