A fluffy newborn chick has come along to steal the show at Munich's Hellabrunn Zoo! The chick is the first King Penguin to be born at the zoo in 11 years. The father, 22-year-old Nautilus, and the mother, 11-year-old Rocio, keep a watchful eye on their little one, who hatched on October 11.
King Penguins are notoriously difficult to breed. First, compatible partners have to be brought together, and then both parents have to take turns incubating the egg, guarding the chick and foraging for food to feed the newborn.
For about 55 days, both parents took turns sitting on the egg. Once the chick emerged from the egg, the mother and father have alternated between guarding the newborn and foraging for food. The chick is fed regurgitated fish up to 20 times a day. Whenever the chick is hungry, it makes a unique begging call to attract the parents’ attention.
"Our little King Penguin is doing great! And it’s well looked after by its parents,” says Zoo Director Rasem Baban. “In about seven months, after the molt, we will be able to take a sample of its feathers and run some DNA tests to determine if it is male or female. But no matter what gender it is, the birth of a King Penguin chick after 11 years is a great success."
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Every day the chick's plumage grows longer and denser until it eventually resembles a gray fur coat. However, for the first five to six months it must remain out of the water until it acquires its juvenile plumage. Only then will the chick have grown the additional oily, waterproof outer layer that serves as protection against cold and wet for adults.
The chick is expected to become independent at around ten months. But for now, the newborn chick is being carefully guarded by his parents and watched with great curiosity by the other two King Penguin pairs at Hellabrunn Zoo.