A loved-up couple of male penguins at Oceanarium Bournemouth have successfully hatched a fertilised egg, and are now proud parents to baby chick Ponyo.
The chick was hatched on 12 May by the two penguins, Diego and Zorro, who have been a couple since 2017. They are often seen waddling around together, going for swims together, and preening each other. Penguins, including Humboldt penguins, are one of several species where same-gender couples are quite common.
Diego and Zorro previously incubated a dummy egg, so penguin keeper Kat Nicola decided to trust them with a real fertilised egg. Kat said: “It has been Diego and Zorro’s second time fostering and once again they have smashed it, becoming quite the experts at parenting.
“The penguins are free to choose who they want to spend quality time with and in their case, they chose each other. The well-being and nurture of these animals is our number one priority and therefore we encourage the penguins to make their own decisions when it comes to choosing their mates.”
Humboldt penguins are native to the Humboldt current off the coast of Chile and Peru in South America. They are classed as ‘vulnerable’ with the wild population declining due to threats including habitat loss, climate change and hunting. With this in mind, the Oceanarium is supporting the Punta San Juan (PSJ) programme, a conservation movement aiming to save important populations of emblematic seabirds of the Humboldt current, such as Humboldt penguins, Inca Terns, Guanay Cormorants, Peruvian Boobies and Peruvian Pelicans.
Ponyo is temporarily off show while its parents find their feet and it learns to swim. Its gender will be identified in the next few weeks.
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