Zookeepers at Calgary Zoo have managed to save a little, tiny life this week, by using the most creative cut and pasting you will have ever seen! When the shell of an unhatched king penguin chick became badly damaged, threatening the small bird’s life, Calgary zookeepers managed to patch up the penguin egg by using the discarded remains of a years-old Humboldt penguin egg.
In a news release, the Calgary Zoo explained that the penguin chick was the offspring of one of their older king penguins, Anntionette, who came to Calgary Zoo from Montreal, in the hopes that she might breed. Antionette and her penguin-boyfriend Louis, are considered by the zoo to be ‘founders,’ as they have no relatives in the zoo population and they have never been able to have a chick together before.
Despite their past difficulties, much to the delight of her keepers, earlier this summer Antionette managed to lay an egg! In order to give the new chick the best chance of survival possible, the egg was passed over to a more experienced penguin-mom, who had successfully raised numerous chicks in the past, and who happily accepted the responsibility of this new, tiny egg.
However, it was an alarming sight for zookeepers during the long weekend of August, when they discovered pieces of the chick’s shell scattered around the penguin enclosure, over a week before the chick was due to hatch. Despite their concerns, zoo staff had to get creative to think of a way to save the shell, and therefore the chick, and what they came up with was genius!
According to Calgary Zoo, their veterinary team got together and used the remains of a Humboldt penguin egg, that was years old, to patch-up the chick’s shell where it had been cracked. Then, the egg was placed inside an “electronic egg incubator,” to keep it warm and safe.
While it was a rough couple of days for the tiny penguin chick, the little bird came out fighting, and with a little bit of encouragement from the staff, the penguin was fully hatched on Wednesday, August 7th. After the tiny creature was cleaned up, given some fluids and medication, it was returned to the adoptive penguin mama, who was happy to have her chick back.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Calgary Zoo shared a photo of the newest addition to their King penguin colony, and the picture is pretty adorable! In the post, Calgary Zoo asks their followers to “join us in rooting for our littlest king penguin's continued health and survival!”
While Calgary Zoo’s keepers and veterinarians are keeping a close eye on their littlest penguin to ensure no further problems stem from his shaky start to life, those involved in his care remain cautiously optimistic for the tiny creature’s future.