African penguins hatch
Three African penguins (Spheniscus demersus) have hatched at the zoo since the beginning of the year, bringing the number of individuals in the colony to 59. While most of the pairs nest in burrows, some choose to nest outside and dig shallow cavities on the ground. Male and female relay each other to provide heat and protection to the chicks. The zoo regularly breeds this endangered species of which only 18000 pairs remain in the wild in South Africa.
Since 2009, the zoo has also funded the SANCCOB (Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds) who rescues underweight, ill or abandoned chicks in wild colonies before rehabilitating and releasing them.
In 2013, SANCCOB admitted 800 chicks. 500 of them were admitted in November and December that mark the end of the breeding season and the beginning of the moult (the adults then cease to feed the late-born chicks). Once at the rescue centre, the chicks are fed with "fish smoothies" and allowed to swim. The rehabilitation process takes from 6 weeks to 3 months depending on the chick's size and condition when it was admitted. Before being released, the birds are checked by the vet. Studies have shown that hand-reared penguins travel same distances as naturally-reared conspecifics in wild colonies.
On the video below, the chicks are only one week-old.