View from the Zoo: Penguins enjoy the festive weather

Humboldt penguins at Flamingo Land.
Humboldt penguins at Flamingo Land.

One of the more festive animals to see at the zoo is of course our penguins. Here at Flamingo Land we have a colony of 22 Humboldt penguins.

Penguins tend to be associated with very cold climates however our species come from the Pacific coastline of Chile and Peru and are more adapted to a hot climate as opposed to the snow that has been falling upon North Yorkshire in recent weeks.

They can still be seen swimming around in their pool but some may prefer to stay inside.

There are 17 different types of penguin all of which live in the southern hemisphere.

The Humboldt penguins, also known as Chilean or Peruvian penguins, live in small colonies and are medium sized, weighing no more than 13 pounds when fully grown.

They are classed as vulnerable as there is thought to be only around 12,000 of them left in the wild.

The decline has been going on for at least 30 years and is due mostly to over fishing, climate change and habitat destruction which makes breeding efforts in zoos around the world so incredibly important.

Penguins nest on dry land, in disused animal burrows or between rocks and crevices.

At Flamingo Land we have purpose built nest boxes that blend into the rock wall in the their enclosure.

Humboldt penguins are generally monogamous and will breed in the same pair every year, both sharing equal duties in raising their chick.

This particular species also displays same sex pairings, and several cases have been reported in zoos where a pair of male Humboldt penguins have successfully reared an abandoned egg in exactly the same way that a male-female pair would.

Reaching maturity at around three years old, the females will lay eggs in the nest or burrows and can lay up to two eggs at a time.

Mother and father will then take it in turns to keep the eggs warm until they hatch, this can take around 40 days.

Once the chick has hatched it is very dependent on its’ parents and will stay in the safety of the nest whilst the parents hunt for fish and bring back food.