Edinburgh Zoo keepers thrilled as endangered penguin chicks hatch

Edinburgh Zoo has announced the arrival of two tiny endangered Northern rockhopper penguin chicks – and they are hoping many more will follow.

Keepers at the wildlife conservation charity welcomed the first chicks of the breeding season, and are now hopeful gentoo penguin eggs will begin hatching in the coming weeks.

Dawn Nicoll, senior penguin keeper at Edinburgh Zoo, said: “Northern rockhopper penguins are endangered due to climate change, changes in marine ecosystems and overfishing, so it is really exciting to welcome these new chicks.

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“The first 30 days are critical for their development, so we will be keeping a close eye on them at this sensitive time.

“Our gentoo penguins are sitting on eggs too, and we hope they will begin to hatch in the coming weeks.

“All going well, it won't be long before visitors can spot the youngsters with the rest of our colony at Penguins Rock.

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“Every visit to the zoo helps care for the amazing animals, like our penguins, and supports our charity’s vital conservation work around the world.”

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Edinburgh Zoo has announced the arrival of two tiny endangered Northern rockhopper penguin chicks. Photo: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland

Edinburgh Zoo is home to more than 100 penguins from three species: king, Northern rockhopper and gentoo.

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The first first Northern rockhopper chick hatched on April 14 to mum, Pinhead, and dad, Bruce, with the second arrival coming three days later on April 17 to mum, Amy, and dad, Gordon.

The public can keep an eye on all of the breeding activity at Edinburgh Zoo on the charity’s free live webcams at edinburghzoo.org.uk/penguincam.

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As well as being part of the European breeding programme for Northern rockhopper penguins, the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has worked to help safeguard the species in the wild for many years, partnering on the species conservation action plan and carrying out genetic analysis in the zoo’s RZSS WildGenes lab to understand connectivity between the breeding populations on remote islands in the Atlantic and Indian Oceans.

Earlier this week, Edinburgh Zoo announced the death of their much-loved Queensland koala, Goonaroo.

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The 17-year-old, who had been experiencing age-related health problems recently, was put to sleep on the advice of veterinary staff.

In December last year, he underwent an operation to remove his right eye.

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Goonaroo hit the headlines in 2013 after fathering the UK’s first ever joey.