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NaturZoo Rheine's Humboldt Penguin colony has been especially prolific this year: ten breeding pairs have nested and laid eggs, and so far, eight chicks have hatched! The German zoo has housed Humboldt Penguins for over forty years and has never had so many hatchlings before.

Most of the action is happening in the nests, where both parents help to raise the young, but with some luck, zoo visitors may catch a peek at the chicks.

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Photo credit: NaturZoo Rheine

See and read more after the fold.

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Zoo staff suspect that the colony might be thriving because of the mildness of this past winter. Humboldt Penguins come from Peru and Chile, where temperatures are warmer than the German winters these penguins have adjusted to. 

Humboldt Penguins live on the rocky islands and coastline of Peru and Chile, and are named for the cold Humboldt current where they commonly swim and feed. They enjoy a diet of small fish and crustaceans.

In the wild, Humboldt Penguins are vulnerable to disturbances in their food chain caused by strong El Nino currents, and are threatened by over-fishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and loss of coastal habitat. They are listed as Vulnerable to extinction by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.