(8 Mar 2012 – Hong Kong) Ocean Park is happy to announce that the 5-month penguin breeding season has come to an end. Under the professional care of Park trainers and veterinarians, 13 pairs of Gentoo and Rockhopper penguins have successfully given birth to a total of 15 babies. It is also worthy to note that the two Rockhopper females at the Park both succeeded in laying eggs during their first breeding season.
While Gentoo and Rockhopper penguins both usually lay two eggs in each pregnancy, it is common in the wild for Rockhopper penguins to only choose one egg to hatch. For Gentoo penguins, even though both eggs might be hatched successfully, parents are often unable to take care of both chicks at the same time, therefore leaving the weaker one with a relatively low survival rate. In order to increase the chance of survival of the penguin babies, Ocean Park has decided to take the unattended chicks under its care and nurture them using hand-raising techniques. The Park is proud to announce that all hand-raised penguin babies, including 4 Gentoos and 1 Rockhopper penguin, are growing healthily and are currently in stable conditions, thereby allowing an exceptional survival rate of 100% to be achieved.
Ocean Park's Terrestrial Life Sciences Senior Curator Howard Chuk said, "To prepare for the arrival of the penguin babies, we have invited penguin experts from the U.S. to visit Ocean Park and provide professional training and guidance to our animal keepers. They have provided invaluable advice on how we can take care of newborn chicks and monitor their growth. I am very grateful to my colleagues who have worked tirelessly to provide the best care for the penguin chicks, ensuring their healthy growth."
He added that with the consistent care provided by the Park's keepers, hand-raised penguin chicks are more active and outgoing than those raised by their parents. The hand-raised chicks are more likely to approach the keepers by themselves. The gender of the chicks will only be known a year later, when the chicks molt and blood tests have been conducted.
The 15 adorable penguin babies will meet the public later this year with the opening of the Polar Adventure attraction area. The Park’s new Polar Adventure theme zone is slated to open in 2012 and will feature animal ambassadors such as King, Rockhopper and Gentoo penguins, walruses and Largha seals. The exhibit will help the visiting public learn about global warming, the plight of Antarctic species and their habitats as a result of climate changes, and conservation actions they may take at home to improve the situations.