Celebrations at Scarborough Sea Life - it’s a girl!

Staff at Sea Life are celebrating the birth of their first female penguin chicks since 2013.

Wilma, who hatched in April, was hand reared by staff at the aquarium, has recently been followed by two more arrivals.

Baby penguin Wilma

Baby penguin Wilma

The two new chicks are the first for new couple Kev and Princess Leia and the pair have successfully reared the little ones themselves without the aquarium’s animal care team needing to intervene.

Resident penguin Custard unveiled the gender of the new penguins in a ceremony this week, putting his mischievous skills to new use.

Displays supervisor, Todd German, said: “Custard is notorious on the walkway as our naughty penguin. He’s become an expert at untying shoe laces so we knew he’d be up to the job of opening the curtains.

“Our breeding season has got off to a flying start with the three new chicks. It’s especially promising that it has been these four birds.

“We think of penguins as being monogamous birds but this year we had a bit of wife swapping with Kev and Gonzo changing partners. It has all worked out for the best though with the new pairs both breeding straight away.”

Whilst Gonzo and Pinky’s chick Wilma had to be hand reared after she wasn’t gaining enough weight, the other two siblings have been in the nest box with Kev and Princess Leia since they hatched.

Todd explains: “It does take some of our penguins a few tries to get the hang of parenting which is why we will intervene and either assist feed them or completely hand rear them if necessary. Kev and Leia have done a brilliant job though.

The two new females are particularly exciting arrivals as the aquarium hasn’t bred a girl since Pebbles in 2013. Earlier this year 6 bachelor penguins from the site moved to Sea Life Hunstanton’s new enclosure to give them the chance to pair up.

Todd added: “Two new girls is brilliant news as our colony is back to being pretty balanced It has been interesting to see how different their personalities are already. Wilma and Betty are a lot more chilled out!”

The Humboldt penguin comes from Chile and Peru in the wild but native populations have struggled in recent years causing the species to be classified as endangered. Sea Life Scarborough joined a European Breeding Programme in 2006 to preserve the species in captivity.

The public are encouraged to visit Sea Life Scarborough to see the year’s new chicks and find out about what they can do to protect wildlife and their habitats.