Who doesn't love a baby penguin? And this summer visitors to nearby Woburn Safari Park will have the opportunity to name on of the latest additions.
Three vulnerable Humboldt penguin chicks have been born at the Bedfordshire park, and keepers need your help naming one of them.
The first two new chicks have already been named “Brie” (born to mum Cheese and dad Arrow) and “Guacamole” (born to mum Salsa and dad Leaf).
Members of the public are invited to enter an online competition to suggest a name for Leaf and Salsa’s second chick by visiting https://www.woburnsafari.co.uk/competition/penguin-naming-competition, by July 28.
The new chicks are currently unsexed and the keepers will pick their favourite gender-neutral name from all the entries.
The winner will be announced on July 28 and will win a VIP Off Road Safari Adventure, with the chance to meet and feed the penguins, plus a £50 gift voucher to spend in Junglies Gift Shop.
Woburn’s keepers have come up with some interesting names for the penguins over the years, naming them after favourite menu items or to reflect the birds’ spot patterns!
Proud parents Cheese and Arrow were named after the spot patterns on their breasts which reassemble a cheesy grin and an arrow. New mum Salsa was named after a South American dip and dad Leaf was named after the leaf-shaped space between his many spots.
Suggested names should be suited to a male or female chick, as keepers won’t know their sex until they are a bit older.
Laura Ashton, Senior Animal Keeper at Woburn and the EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) Coordinator for the species said: “We’ll start seeing the chicks becoming more adventurous soon; tottering down to the pool and enjoying their first swim! We have to be a bit more vigilant during the early weeks, as although they are natural swimmers, they do sometimes take longer to master getting back out of the pool. We’ve taken the precaution of giving chicks some stepping stones at the shallow end of the pool.”
As the co-ordinator and studbook holder for the Humboldt penguin, Laura works with a committee from EAZA (European Association of Zoos and Aquariums) to oversee captive breeding and management of the species throughout Europe.
Humboldt penguins are classified as vulnerable to extinction on the IUCN Red List (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) and the birth of the new chicks at Woburn is important for the conservation of the species. Humboldt penguins originate from South America on the coasts of Chile and Peru. In the wild, Humboldt penguins use their droppings (known as 'guano') to line their breeding nest sites. Droppings are high in nitrates and are harvested by farmers for use as fertiliser for Peruvian agriculture.
At the end of May, Woburn’s keepers held a special fundraising weekend and raised over £1,300 for the Sphenisco charity project (see sphenisco.org), which supports research and the conservation of Humboldt penguins on the coast of Chile.