It’s not just humans that like to snuggle up to their soft toys. These African penguin chicks have been given a penguin soft toy to keep them happy, in place of their mother.
Bristol Zoo’s curator of birds, Nigel Simpson, says: “The chicks like to have something to sleep next to and this penguin soft toy replicates the natural feeling on their mother.”
It’s all part of Project Penguin, Bristol zoo’s conservation project to help save the endangered African penguin from extinction.
The population of African penguins has decreased from 150,000 breeding pairs in 1950 to just 25,000. If this rapid decline is not stopped, and unless drastic action is taken, it’s expected that the African penguin will become extinct in just 15 years.
The eggs are part of a study to discover the optimal incubation conditions that give these penguin chicks their best chance of survival. They were taken from nests their parents have been forced to abandon in order to search further afield for food.
Zoos may soon be called to send eggs from african penguins in captivity back to their native South Africa to help bolster the population in areas that are closer to food stocks. The outcome of this research will ensure their relocation goes as smooth as possible.