London Zoo Successfully Hand-Raising 5 Penguin Chicks with the Help of Several Stuffed Animals

In celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, the London Zoo named the five Humboldt penguin chicks after important moments in Her Majesty's 70-year reign

Zoo hand-rears penguin chicks
Photo: Zoological Society of London

The ZSL London Zoo is giving five hatchlings an extra hand.

According to a May 18 release from the U.K. zoo, keepers are hand-raising five hungry Humboldt penguin chicks at the zoo's penguin nursery after the chicks' parents couldn't care for the baby birds.

"During the breeding season, we check the nests on Penguin Beach every day, keeping an eye out for any chicks who might not be feeding enough or whose parents are struggling to care for their brood," ZSL London Zoo penguin keeper Suzi Hyde said.

"These five chicks all had first-time parents who needed a little bit of extra support, so we were happy to swoop in — with a little help from a few soft toy penguins, donated by the zoo shop, for them to snuggle up to," the animal caretaker added.

While the keepers work on round-the-clock shifts to keep the baby penguins fed, hardworking stuffed animals ensure the chicks are comfortable by serving as fuzzy snuggle buddies.

Zoo hand-rears penguin chicks
Zoological Society of London

The five chicks all hatched between April 14-24 and spent the past few weeks under warming lamps with a plush penguin.

The penguin chicks, currently covered in soft grey feathers — which aren't waterproof — are weighed each day and are growing stronger on a diet of "penguin milkshakes" — a mix of blended fish, vitamins, and minerals.

Once the penguins are around ten weeks old, they will be moved into the nursery's pool to start swimming lessons. Eventually, the five Humboldt penguins will make their public debut and join the zoo's 62 other penguins at the Penguin Beach exhibit.

Zoo hand-rears penguin chicks
Zoological Society of London

"The chicks have all steadily increased in weight by ten percent each day, so they're growing very quickly," Hyde added. "They're always eager for their next meal and make sure we know it's feeding time — they may be only a month old, but they've definitely perfected their squawk!"

In celebration of Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee, the five chicks have all been named after important moments in Her Majesty's 70-year reign: Hillary, after Sir Edmund Hillary becoming the first British individual to scale Everest in 1953; Apollo, to mark the moon landing in 1969; Bobby, in honor of England captain Bobby Moore leading a World Cup win in 1966; Bernie, after Tim Berners-Lee, who invented the internet in 1989; and Mac, after Ellen MacArthur, who sailed around the world non-stop to set a new world record in 2005.

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