The Calgary Zoo’s Animal Care team had watchful eyes on a King penguin egg this month, that was expected to hatch in late July to seasoned mom, “Grace” (who had and raised “Edward”), and her partner, “Solomon” (who helped raise "Nero").
Even the most experienced moms and dads have challenges with their wee ones. During the final stretch of a nearly two-month long incubation period, Grace and Solomon’s egg became cracked after Grace moved away from it, and it rolled down the beach into some rocks. Damage to an egg during the incubation journey is an incredible obstacle to overcome for a hatchling.
The Calgary Zoo team sprung into action, rushing the egg to the specialized incubation room where the veterinary team carefully patched the significantly cracked shell and placed the egg into an electronic egg incubator in the hopes of saving the little one’s life.
With the egg safe and warm in the incubator it was closely monitored for its progress for several days, ever-hopeful that it would survive. Birds rely on an air cell in their egg to breath, and this had been compromised when the egg cracked.
Against all the odds, the tiny chick tried to hatch itself! A hatching chick works hard for days to break through its shell (a process called pipping). This wee one didn’t have any more strength left. It needed experienced helping hands. The Calgary Zoo team gently assisted the chick, ever-so-carefully breaking the shell first and then the egg membrane so that it could ease its way into the world. The chick fully hatched on July 18.
This is the second time the Animal Care and Health team at the Calgary Zoo team have saved and helped hatch a King penguin chick from a damaged egg.
The chick has been reunited with parents Grace and Solomon, who warmly welcomed their wee one back after its challenging arrival. They’re developing strong bonds and care routines, and the chick will continue to be warmed at the feet of its parents for a month or more. The Animal Care and Health team monitored it very closely for the first week to ensure it was gaining weight and to treat it for any potential infections from the compromised egg.
Lucky visitors may catch glimpses of the chick in Penguin Plunge as it emerges from the brood patch for food. The chick won’t become fully independent for some time yet. Every day is critical for this wee chick’s survival, please join us in #rootingforourlittlestkingpenguin.
This tiny new arrival to the Calgary Zoo’s King penguin colony is an essential addition to the Species Survival Plan, protecting and safe-guarding genetic diversity. Grace (age 12) and Solomon (age 17) are both founding members of the Calgary Zoo’s Penguin Plunge, arriving there in 2012.
In the wild, king penguins are considered sensitive indicators of changes in marine systems serving as a key species for understanding the effects of climate change on the marine biome, especially throughout the sub-Antarctic and Antarctic areas. Increasing oil exploration, tourism and interactions with fisheries threaten penguin populations around the world. Choosing OceanWise products is an important way to help animals that depend on the oceans for their food.