An Austrian zoo has welcomed the first African penguin offspring almost one year after its parents were brought from the Netherlands.
The new fluffy African penguin (Spheniscus demersus) chick hatched in the Salzburg Zoo in Austria after its parents moved into their newly built enclosure at the beginning of July last year.
Managing Director Sabine Grebner said: ‘Our first African penguin chick is now around three weeks old and has already gained a lot of weight. We are very happy to say that it is growing and developing really well.’
The young one whose gender has not been determined yet was born to experienced parents Dorie and Samaki that were transferred to Austria from the Amsterdam Zoo in the Netherlands in 2020.
Grebner added: ‘The parents already have enough experience with raising offspring which can be easily seen. They are very caring and they never let the fluffy chick out of their sight.’
The director reported that the newborn chick was only about 100 grams (0,220 lbs) when it was first born, but has been steadily increasing its weight thanks to its parents’ care and devotion.
In addition the chick is covered with brown feathers which are expected to turn darker in the upcoming weeks which is when the small one will be moved out of its incubator.
Grebner said: ‘This is when visitors will be able to see the penguin offspring.’
It usually takes about 40 days for a penguin chick to hatch out of its egg, after which parents look after it for additional 30 days.
According to the managing director, penguin chicks do not fully fledge until they are around 85 days old.
Grebner explained the significance of the newborn for the zoo and said: “For us the first ever penguin chick to hatch in the Salzburg Zoo is of course, something very special. It shows us that the African penguins feel comfortable with us and have settled.”
She also added: ‘African penguins are considered endangered in their South African homeland. There are hardly more than 20,000 breeding pairs on the coasts of South Africa and the trend is decreasing. Every offspring is an invaluable success.’
The Salzburg Zoo (formerly known as Hellbrunn Zoo ) is located in the south of the Austrian city of Salzburg and covers a 14-hectare-area (34,5 acres) which is part of the historic palace gardens of the Hellbrunn Palace built in the early 17th century.