Penguin chicks ditch their fuzzy jumpers for spring

Penguin chicks ditch their fuzzy jumpers for spring

Being a teenager can be challenging – even when you’re a Little Blue Penguin. 

Three cute and gawky new chicks at Melbourne Zoo’s Wild Sea precinct know this first-hand as they begin to lose their fluffy plumage to become waterproof adults. 

Melbourne Zoo wild sea keeper Yvette Harris said the adorable bundles of joy would have their patchwork coats for the next few weeks before they were able to swim with the rest of the penguin waddle. 

“We’re so pleased that two of our breeding pairs were successful in producing three healthy male chicks and it’s fascinating to watch them become independent,” Ms Harris said. “These are our first penguin chicks in four years so visitors can enjoy seeing them grow up into not-so-big Little Blue Penguins.”

When the penguin chicks first hatch, they eat regurgitated fish from mum and dad who take turns caring for them in the nest. 

They are then weaned from their parents so they can feed independently as they would do in the wild. Currently they consume up to 12 fish every single day. 

“The chicks passed all their health checks and will soon be confident enough to swim on their own once they have their adult waterproof plumage,” Ms Harris said. “Visitors can see the adorable little penguins diving underwater and interacting with the rest of the group.”

There are 15 Little Blue Penguins within the Wild Sea precinct, who spend their day swimming, nesting, chirping and huddling close together in the spring sunshine. 

Victoria’s native penguins are the smallest of the species. They grow to 30 centimetres tall and weigh around one kilogram. Like all penguins, they’re the best swimmers and divers of the world’s birds. They swim with their flippers and use their tail to steer. 

Visitors can view the Little Blue Penguins zipping around underwater at Melbourne Zoo’s Wild Sea precinct. •

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