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Moscow Zoo welcomes birth of endangered Humboldt penguins

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Staff Writer | February 15, 2018
A Moscow Zoo colony of Humboldt penguins – a rare endangered species – has grown.
Humboldt penguins
Animals   The young spend most of their time in the nest
Four chicks hatched over a month ago with the first seeing the light of day on January 1, two others followed on January 3 and the last one on January 5.

The young spend most of their time in the nest located in a cave in the warm enclosure of the House of Birds, a special area within the older part of the zoo. In a month, however, the chicks will learn to swim and will be seen more often accompanying their parents outside.

For the time being, they are covered with down, which protects them from the cold. In a month, the chicks will grow feathers with a different colour pattern from that of adult Humboldt penguins, which have black heads with a white ring, black backs and a wide black band on their white belly.

The base of the bill is pink. The birds stand 70 cm tall and weigh five kilograms, consume mostly Baltic herring, and can live for over 30 years in captivity.

The chicks will not take food from keepers for another half a year, so they are being fed by their parents.

After the weather got cold in the Russian capital, the Humboldt penguins moved to the warmer room in the House of Birds pavilion. For a month they brooded, and four chicks had hatched by 5 January. They are not the first Humboldt penguins to hatch at the zoo. The colony of this Red Data List bird now has 20 members.

Humboldt penguins live on the western rocky shores of South America and neighbouring isles, cooled by the Peru Current. They are monogamous by nature, with the global population standing at 12,000 pairs.