The Calgary Zoo welcomed its second king penguin chick Aug. 6 to a mother penguin who “remains unattached from a pairing”—an unusual situation for the species, officials said Friday.
“In the wild, penguins form pairs and take turns incubating the egg, co-parenting chicks to keep the egg warm before it hatches,” the zoo wrote on its blog. “This not only gives the two birds time to eat and rest while the other cares for the chick, but also gives the little king penguin double the protection.”
Staff said the mother penguin, Grace, can only remain single because she’s living in the zoo environment.
“In the wild, Grace would not have success raising her little one,” reads the blog. “She would have to choose between keeping the egg or chick warm and safe, or finding food for herself, and would eventually have to abandon it.”
Staff will feed Grace and check on the chick daily. It seems to be doing well, peeking out from under Grace to look around and feed.
The zoo said king penguins are part of the Species Survival Plan (SSP) which aims to “ensure genetic diversity in captive populations.”
“This king chick is only the second to be born at the zoo and is helping to grow our population and be an important ambassador for his species.”
The zoo welcomed its first king penguin chick, Nero, in August 2015. He quickly grew to be the biggest penguin in the colony at almost 16 kilograms—35 pounds—at just five months old.
Watch below (Jan. 26, 2016): Gil Tucker reports on the Calgary Zoo’s new arrival, who really stands out from the crowd.