CALGARY – The Calgary Zoo’s penguin exhibit has welcomed a new bird to its family–a little king penguin chick.
However, you may not want to book your tickets to pay him a visit just yet, as he’s being closely monitored behind the scenes.
Earlier in the summer, 27-year-old king penguin Antoinette and her mate 21-year-old Louis laid an egg. The two have never bred before, so the zoo was especially interested in making sure the genes of the pair were passed on.
At the two-month incubation mark, zoo curators called in a more experienced penguin mom, Diana, to care for the egg.
The zoo says in a release that keepers expected the egg to hatch this past Sunday, but over August long weekend they found pieces of the eggshell on the enclosure’s beach.
The Calgary Zoo has welcomed a new king penguin chick. The little boy is being monitored closely to ensure he is healthy. (CREDIT: The Calgary Zoo)
“The egg was about five days too early, and even though it seems fairly close, it’s not quite the same as human babies where we have a lot of technology to keep preemie babies alive. With penguins or other birds, it tends to be really bad news,” explained curator Malu Celli.
Celli said when the eggshell broke, the membrane was still intact. Keepers patched the shell up with pieces from a broken Humboldt eggshell until it was time for the little guy to bust through on his own.
A few rough days later, the little chick tried to break out of his egg. He needed a little encouragement along the way, according to zoo staff, but he fully hatched on Wednesday. He is now back in the care of his foster mom, but zookeepers are watching closely to make sure he’s healthy.
“Fingers crossed, the little chick isn’t quite out of the woods yet.”
As a result, the little king won’t be out in the Penguin Plunge exhibit for a little while yet. It’s breeding season so Diana and the unnamed chick have been moved from the main enclosure to give them the best chance at bonding and feeding.
-with files from Kayla Bruch