Lots of happy feet with penguin chick arrivals

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Visitors to Woburn Safari Park will soon hear the pitter-patter of lots of happy feet as four adorable Humboldt penguin chicks have now hatched.

The as-yet unsexed chicks, which are still in nests inside their burrows, are being cared for by their parents at the Park’s Penguin World enclosure.

They have been given unusual and unique names by keepers and are all making remarkable progress.

One of the adorable new chicks has been named Mumble after the lead penguin in the hit film Happy Feet, because (like the animated character) the chick was a late developer, taking nearly two days to hatch. Mumble is still slightly smaller than the average chick, but thanks to the care and attentions of the proud parents, the chicks are growing stronger every day.

Mum, Chimichanga was given a Mexican food themed name, as was Burrito and Salsa. Dad, Roadrunner, was named for his love of speed on land.

Chick number two has been named Goose because of its large size, after keepers joked that the not-so-little penguin must have hatched from a stray goose egg. At three weeks old the chick is 30% bigger than average. Keepers expect that Goose will soon be taller than mum.

Proud mother Dash (named for her comical run) and father Sprats (named for his extreme love of fish) have been paired for 15 years, and have been working hard feeding Goose, who is very robust and healthy.

Healthy chick number three, Avocado, is also progressing very well and has been named to mix well with mum, Leaf, and dad, Salsa, to make the perfect penguin family.

Chick number four, born to mum Cheese (named for the markings of a cheesy grin on her chest) and dad, Arrow (also named for his markings) will be named by readers of Animals & You magazine in June.

Laura Ashton, senior animal keeper at Woburn Safari Park and EEP (European Endangered Species Programme) coordinator for Humboldt Penguins, said: “The four new chicks are settling in very well under the watchful eye of their loving parents and they are already very popular with keepers.

“We take a ‘hands off’ approach at Woburn so that the penguin families can behave as naturally as possible, although we have had a lot of fun naming them!

“Some of the other names we’ve given penguins in the past include Salsa, Burrito, Pickle and Gherkin.”

The new penguin chicks will be on view to the public in the Penguin World enclosure this summer, once they have their waterproof feathers at around three months old.

Woburn Safari Park will also be holding a special Penguin Charity Weekend over the bank holiday weekend (May 28-30) to raise money and awareness for the Punta San Juan Project in Peru, which is a marine reserve peninsula currently home to Peru’s largest breeding population of Humboldt penguins.

The aim of the conservation and research project is to protect areas of guano reserves which are crucial to the breeding of the species.