The final chick for Taronga Zoo’s 2013-2014 Little Penguin breeding season is in our crèche learning to hand feed, making a total of 20 for the season!
Little Penguin chicks are fully-fledged at eight weeks of age. At this stage, in the wild, they would be abandoned by their parents and rely on natural instincts to make their way to the water and find food.
At the zoo, where most of the food comes from keepers’ hands, they are removed from the burrow at five weeks of age and moved to the ‘penguin crèche’.
Here they spend three weeks learning to hand-feed and are conditioned to come to a bell, which is rung to alert the birds to each feed and its location.
Years of experience has shown this is the perfect age to start the training process, so the chicks can return to the colony and feed successfully when fully fledged.
Little Penguins bred at Taronga Zoo are a key contributor to the international breeding and research programs, which ensure an insurance population and increases our knowledge of penguin behaviour and biology.
- Marine Keeper, Stephen Dalleywater